Mesut Özil Has Done More for Arsenal Than Most People Think

The German has always split opinion.
The German has always split opinion. | Alex Morton/Getty Images

Few players in world football split opinion more than Arsenal's Mesut Özil.

Previously touted as the greatest playmaker of his generation, the German's decline in the post Arsene Wenger era has been sad to see. No-one doubts his ability but many have questioned his attitude, effort and greed.

Some feel he has stolen a living at Arsenal over his seven years at the club but they couldn't be more wrong. That's not to say that Özil doesn't deserve criticism, particularly since Wenger left. It is more to point out that he shouldn't be scapegoated for some of Arsenal's miserable performances in that time and more importantly, people shouldn't forget what he has actually done for the club.

The truth is that Mesut Özil has done more for Arsenal than most people think. Whether people choose to deny it or accept it is their choice, but there's a number of reasons why the German's time at the club should be classed as successful - after all, he has won the most major trophies in the Emirates era.

He Instilled Belief

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Fans and players were excited by the signing. | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Let's take it back to the very beginning.

In the years prior to Özil signing, Arsenal fans were broken after having not won a trophy in eight years. To add to that, players were leaving and winning elsewhere - stars Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and top goalscorer Robin van Persie all left within a year of each other and went on to win major trophies away from Arsenal.

Supporters called on Wenger and the board to spend some money to replace a void that had arguably been missing since the invincible era. So you can understand that when Arsenal finally did spend a then club record £42.5m on the calibre of player their supporters had been crying out for, fans were inevitably excited for the future.

While most didn't expect Özil to immediately transfer Arsenal into a title-winning side, they did believe that he could help the club win something again. Fortunately, his signing instilled a much needed self-belief into some of the Arsenal players, namely Aaron Ramsey. The two managed to form a formidable midfield partnership in his first full-season and the reinvigorated Welshman scored 16 times in the Premier League from midfield.

The pair's league form transcribed to the FA Cup as Arsenal overturned a 2-0 deficit in the final to beat Hull City 3-2 at Wembley. Arsenal had finally won something of importance after nine empty years and it happened in the German's first season at the club: a coincidence?

Let's answer that. If it was purely coincidence, they wouldn't have done it again in the following season, thumping Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa 4-0 in that year's final. Arsenal now had two major honours in two years, having not won anything in nine. It is delusional to think that happened by chance, the club were simply a much better team with the German in the side.

Mesut Oezil, Lukas Podolski
Arsenal won their first trophy in nine years with a win over Hull at Wembley. | Clive Mason/Getty Images

One Unforgettable Season

He put on one of the greatest ever creative displays in 15/16
He put on one of the greatest ever creative displays in 15/16 | James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

It was the 15/16 season that Arsenal fans hate to remember as it is the season they should have won the league. Özil reached 16 assists by January - yes, January.

With numbers that impressive, he looked destined to break the all time record of assists in a season (20) set by the Gunners' greatest player Thierry Henry. That is before Arsenal's strikers decided to play with their shoes on the wrong feet, with Olivier Giroud failing to score in 15 games.

Somehow Özil only managed to register three more assists as Arsenal eventually finished second behind Leicester - he was also robbed of a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

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He Formed the Greatest Partnership of the Emirates Era

Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil
Neither player has looked the same since Sanchez left | Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Watching Özil and Alexis Sanchez together was at times magical and the pair were often frightening for opposition defences.

Sanchez's hard-work meant there was space in behind for Özil to find him, which he so often did. The Chilean felt that if he made a run in a game, nine times out of ten, he would be on the end of a beautifully weighted pass. Together they were a menace. Often unpredictable, the two showed why we call it the beautiful game.

Unfortunately, since Sanchez left, the German hasn't been the same and visa-versa. The general assumption that Özil is that he is lazy, lackadaisical, and without intensity but is that the reason why he is not on the same wave length? Surely losing his right-hand man had some impact on why he has failed to deliver in recent years.

He Stayed When No-One Else Did

Mesut Ozil
So many 'legends' have left but he stayed, so why is he criticised? | Alex Morton/Getty Images

So many past 'legends' left the club when Arsenal needed them most - even Thierry Henry - and they are still praised for their efforts. Admittedly, the £350,000-per week contract would've played a huge factor in his decision to stay and understandably fans are frustrated by his lack of form since then, but why criticise loyalty?

He has never refused to train nor criticised the club. Frankly, it is baffling to see why Özil has been treated in the way that he has.