Why the World Cup Is a Positive Sign of Mesut Ozil's Form for This Season

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Why the World Cup Is a Positive Sign of Mesut Ozil's Form for This Season
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Perhaps no Arsenal player has been as polarizing since his arrival as Mesut Ozil.

The German always has been a peculiar type of player and became even more so upon his arrival at Arsenal. Signed for £42.5 million from Real Madrid—almost triple Arsenal's previous transfer record—many were disappointed when he did not prove to be an instant savior.

His performances began promisingly but always had an air of ineffectuality about them. In the beginning of his Arsenal career, many were able to forgive him due to a dearth of time spent training with his new teammates and the difficulty of adapting to the Premier League.

But for most of the season, Ozil seemed to disappear when Arsenal needed him most. He was supposed to be the key to unlocking the defenses of the world's best teams; instead, he always seemed to play simple passes and get flustered by efficient marking.

To the untrained eye, his performances for Germany during the World Cup were similarly uninspiring. Though he was the only Arsenal player who was a fixture in Joachim Low's starting XI, Ozil never truly caught the eye like he did during the 2010 World Cup and seemed to simplify his game.

Yet Ozil's role for Germany was as subtly vital as the one he played for Arsenal last season. As I described him:

He's quite an enigma, and he plays with all the subtlety of an expensive wine. You might ask the sommelier why you just paid £42.5 for a glass of port, just as fans often ask Arsenal why Ozil cost so much money after an ineffectual performance.

But one must learn to appreciate the finer things in football, as in life. Ozil keeps play moving, rotates effectively with other players and can still play a tantalizingly delicious through ball.

Ozil is an acquired taste. His skills are not as flashy as James Rodriguez's, but over the course of an entire match or even an entire season, he can provide a side with the boost needed to win trophies.

Speaking of Rodriguez, let's compare the two at the World Cup.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The Colombian was commonly considered to be the best player of the tournament, scoring six goals in five games (including one in every game in which he played) to take home the Golden Boot. His statistics and Ozil's statistics can be found on Squawka.com.

Interestingly, Ozil created six more chances during the World Cup than Rodriguez (both play in the No. 10 role). The German had seven appearances to the Colombian's five, but that is rather impressive considering one receives all the plaudits and the other is not appreciated.

Ozil also consistently performs small tasks well rather than attempting acts of grandeur. Thus, he completes 87 percent of his passes to Rodriguez's 76 percent, with an average pass length of 14 meters to his counterpart's 18 meters.

This shows Ozil is not one to take many risks with the ball at his feet and keeps the ball moving before thinking of a glorious through ball he could play.

His pass completion rate is extremely uncommon for someone who plays as high up the pitch as him. Eighty-seven percent is a figure more commonly associated with deeper midfielders; indeed, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos are both within a couple percentage points of Ozil.

Arsene Wenger recently said (via Arsenal.com) this advice helped Aaron Ramsey drastically improve his level of play—transforming him from outcast to world class:

You have to do basics, basics, basics, and then slowly you get into the zone where it becomes easier.

Ozil is already a master of the basics, and when you watch one of his highlight videos, you will see he discreetly sprinkles in a fair amount of flair and exceptional skill moves into his usually perfectly humdrum play.

He really is poised, then, to win Player of the Year as Arsene Wenger touted him to do back in April.

 

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