As a player, Michael Owen appeared against Arsenal more than any other club in his career, and he may have gained a fairly good understanding of what makes the Gunners tick during that period.
However, in a statement that's bound to ruffle some feathers in North London, the former Liverpool, Newcastle, Stoke City, Real Madrid and Manchester United striker says Mesut Ozil isn't good enough to lead the Gunners to the title.
Arsenal don’t have the class of player to go toe to toe with the main title contenders.
Despite people constantly telling me Mesut Ozil is world class, his inconsistency means that we only see occasional glimpses of real quality.
His odd good performance is usually followed by half a dozen poor ones.
Arsene Wenger would undoubtedly be among the number of people to disagree with Owen's view, benefiting strongly from the arrival of his £42.5 million summer acquisition.
Piers Morgan, a known Arsenal fan, clearly wasn't on board with Owen's opinion:
This led to something of a Twitter row between the two media figures, who regularly bait each other in light-hearted fashion:
Ozil has four goals and eight assists to his name from 13 Premier League outings so far this season, per Transfermarkt, averaging a direct hand in a goal just under once per game.
What's more, those statistics show that the attacking midfielder is yet to go more than two league fixtures without recording a goal or an assist—not quite the "half a dozen" missing games that Owen prescribes.
Then again, perhaps Owen hasn't got Arsenal as sussed as he might think. According to Transfermarkt, the retired forward played 22 matches against the North Londoners, but lost half of that number—winning six and drawing five with five goals scored in the process.
The 34-year-old later moved on to matters closer to home, and unsurprisingly backed boyhood club Liverpool regarding their credentials as Premier League contenders.
Per Marioni's report, the journeyman added:
Liverpool are fully deserving of being labelled title contenders. The Reds are firmly back in the big time. The noises I am hearing are that Rodgers has money to spend this coming window and should he unearth another couple of gems, I certainly wouldn’t back against them lifting some silverware come May.
Owen won't want to speak too soon. After all, this will be the first time in five years that Liverpool spend Christmas as part of the top four. The last occasion was the 2008/09 campaign, when they would eventually finish as runners-up.
Both the Gunners and the Reds have fairly recent history of being close at Christmas but off the mark come May, as is shown by OptaJoe:
Nonetheless, talk of money being available should be treated as a double-edged sword by Liverpool fans. After all, while it's hopeful to hear that funds are there to be invested, it's bad use of those funds that has left Liverpool in trouble in the past.
This January will mark three years since the club brought both £35 million Andy Carroll and £23 million Luis Suarez to Anfield. With that in mind, the Reds will be hoping for less of the former and more of the latter when conducting future business.
Liverpool and Arsenal currently sit just two points apart at the Premier League summit and look bound to be two of those jostling for first place come the end of the season. However, seasons can often be decided during these frigid winter months, making for a make-or-break period in either club's calendar.
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