Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal arrival in the summer of 2013 created shock waves for fans in north London who felt the £42.5 million acquisition from Real Madrid was a sign of Arsene Wenger finally being a little less tight with the club’s money.
Since then Ozil has been something of a Marmite footballer with some thinking he has been the best thing since slice bread, and the rest being of the opinion that his Premier League future could be toast in the not too distant future.
One major criticism of him is the claim that he goes ‘missing’ in big matches, despite the fact that two of his four league goals last season came in the north London derby with Tottenham and in the home clash against Liverpool as well as two of his seven assists in all club competitions during the 2014-15 campaign coming in the FA Cup Semi-Final win over Reading.
Ozil of course was also superb in Sunday’s 3-0 win over rivals Manchester United, creating one goal and scoring another as the Gunners romped to victory at the Emirates stadium.
David Silva of Manchester City is considered the best number ten by the majority of fans and pundits, and with good reason too as he topped most of the important stats for the required position last season against fellow number tens.
The Spaniard registered seven assists, more than Ozil (five), Phillippe Coutinho (also five) and Juan Mata (four). Oscar contributed more however with eight as Chelsea won the Premier League for the first time in five years.
Silva did create more chances, scored more goals and made more key passes than all of the above though. Ozil created 23 less chances (70) than Silva (93), scored four goals compared to Silva’s 12 and made 21 less key passes (65 to Silva’s 86).
However, Ozil played just 22/38 games whereas Silva featured in ten more and therefore was on a football pitch 781 minutes more than his German compatriot.
If you do the maths, on average, if Ozil played those 781 minutes, his numbers would be higher than Silva’s.
He would have seven assists, level with Silva, 92 key passes, higher than Silva’s 86 and he would have created 99 chances, six more than the ex-Valencia man.
Silva would still top Ozil in the goals stakes. Arsenal’s number 11 would only score one more goal.
It is a similar story if you take his totals from the early stage of the 2015-16 season.
Out of Ozil, Silva, Mata, Coutinho and Oscar, Mata has featured the most with eight matches, having played for 664 minutes.
Mata’s stats for assists, key passes, chances created and goals are three, 13, 16 and three respectively, and he is only the best amongst his fellow centre attacking midfielders at scoring goals – and that is without the average score coming into effect.
City’s Silva is the most efficient assister with six. Ozil has four, Coutinho has two and Oscar does not have any.
Ozil is numero uno (or nummer Eins) in terms of key passes (27) and chances created (31), compared to Silva (ten and 16), Mata (13 and 16), Coutinho (five and seven) and Oscar (three and three).
Once you calculate all five players to have played as much as Mata, the results are as follows:
Assist king is still Silva with ten, next is Ozil with five, Mata and Coutinho are level on three and Oscar is still stuck on zero (although, in fairness, he probably would have registered at least one if he played another six times).
Again, Ozil is the most creative in terms of key passes and chances created with Silva, Mata, Oscar and Coutinho behind him in that order for both stats.
Mata remains the top scorer too, closely followed by Oscar, Silva, Coutinho and finally Ozil.
Number tens are often judged on their assist totals, and that makes sense, but Ozil is let down in this tally, not for his lack of creating ability (as his key passes and chances created amount prove), but because of the strikers who are supposed to finish off his good work.
At Real Madrid Ozil played behind one of the best forwards and players in the world right now, and that the sport has ever seen, in Cristiano Ronaldo and, failing that, Karim Benzema, a very good striker in most people’s eyes.
During this time in the Spanish capital Ozil racked up 47 assists in three and a bit seasons, whereas his numbers have gone down since he has started playing with a good, but wasteful, pair of attackers in Oliver Giroud and Theo Walcott. If those two could finish as well as Ronaldo, then Ozil would get a lot more assists.
This works in a similar vein to Silva who is fortunate enough to be in the same side as one of, probably the best, centre forward in the Premier League – Sergio Aguero.
If Aguero was up front for Arsenal, Ozil would have a better option in front of him to score the chances he creates, therefore increasing the amount of assists he gets. The point is made often that for this reason Ronaldo makes Ozil look better than he is, potentially valid point, but on the flip-side, surely that means Giroud and/or Walcott could or do make him look worse than many seem to think he is?
Not that it was needed, but that must give Arsenal fans even more reason to want Wenger to splash out on a world class centre forward, to not just get more goals for the FA Cup holders, but to get Ozil the credit he deserves as truly the Premier League’s best number 10 right now.