Actions speak louder than words and no one knows that better than Mesut Ozil. People will always have an array of opinion on the best players in world football and the German international’s huge social media presence and fame makes him an easy win for ex-players, pundits who look for someone to criticise when things are going wrong.
The negativity surrounding Arsenal at the moment has been brought on by years of frustration at the Gunners inability to maintain a consistent challenge for a major trophy. There have been big victories, terrible defeats and, somewhere in between, major signings, with Ozil arriving in north London for a then-club record fee of £42.5m four years ago.
The 28-year-old has always sparked debate on how good he really is. It’s clear that someone who has made the most final third passes completed (3015), created the most chances (409), made the most successful crosses (229) and recorded the most assists (42) in the Premier League since joining in 2013 is undoubtedly a world class player whose statistics cannot be argued with.
The main focal points of the criticism stem round Ozil’s body language and ‘lack of leadership qualities’ when Arsenal are going through a bad patch. His performances for the national team rarely get questioned and his two assists and goal against the Czech Republic and Norway showed exactly what he is capable of. Ozil tracked back, made an excellent assist for Thomas Muller in the first game and proved to be the main threat in an attacking midfield position.
The former Real Madrid man insisted in an interview with Goal near the end of last season that people should accept him for who he is. His recent Instagram statement which told ex-players and pundits to ‘stop talking and start supporting’ was perfectly timed as Arsene Wenger’s side need everyone behind them going into the new campaign. Ozil has created 10 chances in the league so far – no player has created more.
“You’re not going to tell me Mesut Ozil is not a leader? You’re not going to tell me Alexis Sanchez is not a leader? You’re not going to tell me Petr Cech is not a leader," former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira recently told Mail Online .
“I believe there are different types of leaders on the field. You have the technical leader, you have the vocal one, you have the one who doesn’t talk but shows it in his desire and how he competes.
“I’m more like that: the one who isn’t as vocal as Tony Adams but will show it how he competes on the field. And you have the type of leader who will want to take a penalty in the 95th minute — this is part of being a leader as well.”
Wenger’s main problem in getting the best out of Ozil is refusal to bring in a player who can offset some of the German’s weaknesses. He would be more effective if a central midfielder with defensive qualities could play behind him, but the Frenchman continues to stick with the vulnerable midfield pivot of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey – neither of whom are defensive midfielders.
Let's not forget that this is a player who topped the league's assist chart two seasons ago with 19 - one short of Thierry Henry's record for most in one season.. Wenger certainly knows how to utilise his strengths but there is the fact that Arsenal's defensive side has been neglected in the past couple of seasons which saw them finish fifth in the last campaign.
He's been forced to play from deep in recent games due to Arsenal's defensive deficiencies and failure to get the ball in the final third quickly enough. That isn't an issue for the German national team where they play with two holding midfielders and possess a defensive unit which rarely concedes goals.
Ozil has consistently shown what he can do for club and country. He creates an abundance of opportunities for his team-mates, opens up the pitch with his intelligent runs and pin-point passing while he showed last season that he isn't afraid to score a goal - recording his best goalscoring tally at club level during the previous campaign.
He will always provoke, excite, entertain and frustrate, but that's what makes Ozil so enigmatic. Those who feel this will be his last season at Arsenal should appreciate what they have before it's gone because once the No.10 leaves Emirates Stadium they will almost certainly be worse off as a team and overall attacking unit.
His critics say he doesn't work hard enough while the player himself wants them to 'stop talking and start supporting'. They could provide the extra motivation to prove everyone wrong and remind them who the best No.10 in world football is.