Is a Premier League season really a Premier League season without dramatic headlines about managers? The crux of this season’s manager circus is undoubtedly José Mourinho and the entire Manchester United squad.
In close second, especially in recent days, lies the reported rocky relationship between Unai Emery and Mesut Özil at Arsenal. At the very least, the entire situation is confusing.
The best summary thus far comes in the form of this tweet.
Emery has elected to not use Özil for recent games against Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool. The German midfielder has 14 Premier League appearances so far, starting in all but one.
The start against Cardiff City marked his first appearance in over a month, with a big matchup against Manchester City looming over the weekend.
All of this is more than enough fuel for the fire of disarray in the Gunner locker room, leading to a heavy divide among the fans. There are those calling for Özil to be sold, and others calling for him to lead the lines every match.
The Case For Özil
This season Özil has had an impact on the attack. Per 90 minutes in the Premier League, the former Real Madrid man produced 2.11 passes leading to shots. The league average this season is 1.59.
Arsenal’s highest paid player created 0.22 expected assists per 90 minutes this season, compared to the league average of 0.16.
Attacking moves where Özil pulls the strings as opposed to providing the shot or key pass generated 0.49 expected goals per 90 minutes, demolishing the league average of 0.19.
The Case Against Özil
On the other hand, Arsenal don’t exactly pull out the best results when Özil has taken the field this season.
So far, Arsenal won 50% of matches and lost 22% of matches with Özil on the field. Without Özil, Arsenal won 70% of matches and lost only 20% so far.
Arsenal’s goal differential without Özil is +10, but with him it is only +6.
Love him or hate him, Özil has been hit or miss this season, with more misses than hits.
Enough with the numbers…
To tie all of this statistical rambling into the situation at hand, there seems to be little reason to suggest that the omission of Özil is personal.
Emery took the Arsenal job after Arsene Wenger’s 22 year reign. A club develops and maintains a certain culture and set of expectations when the public leader holds control for such a long period of time. For Emery to grow his influence on the club at the pace Arsenal fans expect him to, drastic moves need to be made.
Özil’s personal production goes hardly unnoticed, and a smart manager like Emery sees that. But players like Özil and Ramsey still symbolize the Wenger era significantly.
The slow, possession based “Wengerball” doesn’t mesh well with the fast paced, high-pressure system Emery has introduced.
The reason Özil is slowly being exiled is the same reason Ramsey has been practically given to Juventus. Emery is pushing out the pieces Wenger left behind and gathering his own to build what he envisions.
The jury is still out on whether Emery will have the right answers. However, not as many questions should be asked until he has the right tools.
Note from the Editor: Sebastian’s matches of the week will be posted on 2/1. In his Matches of the Week he has a preview of Arsenal… Be sure to give it a read. It will be linked here when it is published.