Mesut Ozil is fast becoming tagged a £42.5 million flop at Arsenal after his crucial penalty miss swung Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 tie in favour of Bayern Munich.
Ozil even earned uncharacteristic criticism from boss Arsene Wenger for his nonchalant penalty-taking style, which saw him miss for the third consecutive time as Manuel Neuer palmed his kick to safety.
Goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller—following Wojciech Szczesny’s earlier red card—gave Arsenal a mountain to climb in the second leg, and Wenger confessed to Sky Sports he didn't like Ozil’s penalty, per ESPN FC:
I prefer that people run properly at the ball.
Look, everyone has their own style and you have to respect that there is not one way of penalty taking. He feels comfortable like that, it’s his style.
Ozil had already missed a penalty for Arsenal earlier in their European campaign, seeing a similar two-step run-up foiled against Marseille:
However, it wasn't just his penalty that drew the media’s wrath as Ozil delivered a lazy second-half performance against Bayern, constantly allowing runners to escape his attention as the Gunners were beaten 2-0.
Mathieu Flamini berated his team-mate at one stage, reminding him that his other eight outfield colleagues were busting a gut in order to keep the Bayern machine at bay:
Media reaction, unsurprisingly, was not kind to the German in Thursday’s national papers:
Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail delivered a cutting jibe in his post-match player ratings, saying the following of Ozil’s contribution:
“The way he won the penalty was worth £42 million. The way he missed was worth £4.20.”
In truth, the penalty was the least alarming moment of Ozil’s night. Anybody, even Lionel Messi (against Chelsea), can miss a penalty on a big occasion. It’s worth remembering too, as Mokbel highlights, it was Ozil’s piece of trickery that earned the spot-kick in the first place.
Should Ozil be dropped?
But the ongoing laziness of the Germany international is something Wenger may only address by dropping his major summer signing. Squawka stats show Ozil won only 25 percent of duels against Bayern, a tally simply not good enough for a side who had to throw all hands to the pump.
Ozil’s decline has been sharp. His past five performances for the Gunners have failed to produce a goal or assist, according to ESPN FC stats. Contrast that to his first five appearances, when he logged one goal and four assists.
Henry Winter of the Telegraph believes Ozil can learn from the simplicity of Toni Kroos, who was outstanding on the night:
Arsenal’s next outing comes at home to Sunderland in the Premier League. It provides an ideal opportunity for Wenger to fire a warning shot at Ozil by dropping him. Wednesday’s exertions allow the Frenchman to merely claim he is resting his prized asset.
Tomas Rosicky, who was harshly benched against Bayern, is an ideal replacement and is in better form than his colleague.
There is no doubt Ozil is a top quality playmaker when on form, but he does not appear to be enjoying his football right now, and Flamini’s reaction shows team-mates are clearly not appreciating his lack of work ethic.
You have to earn the right to play football at the top level. Currently, Ozil is only interested in the second part of that equation.