Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Ian Wright defends Ozil, questions midfield set-up

Ian Wright has defended Mesut Ozil after the German came in for some serious criticism following the 1-0 defeat to Stoke.

Some pundits singled out the Arsenal playmaker as a big problem for the Gunners, but the former record goalscorer believes the current set-up, particularly in midfield, doesn’t get the best out of the 28.

Asked on Sky Sports Debate show if he understood frustrations about him, he said, “What, the one that’s already created 10 chances for his teammates when he’s supposed to be having a nightmare? Because he looks frustrated when he loses the ball or something happens?

“If I’m Arsene Wenger, I’m saying ‘When he gets the ball, I just want you to back him up, and if he loses it you get it back and give it back to him to let him get on with it again.

“Because some players you have to give them the licence to do that. The stick he gets, it really annoys me, it jars me.”

Wrighty also questioned whether the midfield combination of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey had the right attributes in the current set-up.

“I know that Xhaka’s a good passer,” he said. “He’s playing in that deeper role, the holding role, with Ramsey. They haven’t got the legs for me. Even when they do lose the ball they’re so easy to get past.

“I believe he [Ozil] is somebody who should have even more licence to do what he wants. He’s a creative player, he’s not going to start running back and tackling people. They can utilise him better.”

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So wright

Too Drunk To Be Offside

Frankly Wenger needs to look at how things are being managed. The core of the midfield is meant to be players who really don’t want to be at the club. Ox wants to leave, Ozil has already left mentally, Sanchez is still busy holidaying who knows where. Its clear that Wenger wants to use them as key players this season, players who don’t want to be at the club. This is hardly manager of the year stuff, to put it mildly. The two players he has brought in seem promising, but with half the core ready to leave the squad… Read more »

Ivan Parasite

Wow..reading too much until you think you really know them personally. You even know what is inside ozil ox and alexis mind.Not one but 3 Arsenal players are your friend. Uh, Wenger is your friend too..damn how good your life is..great to have you here at least you can send some words on our behalf. Can I have your number?

Theo the friendly ghost

you just make stuff up like this everyday?


Ian is..Wright. Again.

Reality check

Ignoring obivous flawd,playing players out of position-this obsession is very old. It worked in some cases but in many others, it failed too. Wenger wasted Arshavin by playing him on the wing. He was a goal scorer and could put balls through with his eyes closed but wenger not only wasted his attacking potential but also let other teams attack our left at will all day long..

Samuel Peeps

Wright on, completely agree with both his points. Ozil is on the pitch to create chances and he does that better than anyone in the league, just look at his stats. Why don’t people like him? I don’t get it. It jars me too Ian! And Rambo and Xhaka is a horribly unbalanced and lightweight centre-mid partnership. I like Xhaka as a player, he’s a bit like a poor man’s Pirlo with his passing range and control, but then Pirlo had Marchisio and Vidal next to him so he didn’t really need to worry about people running past him. Or… Read more »


I totally agree. The only thing I’ll add to that is it’s clear that Aaron Ramsey isn’t a CM. As 7amkickoff pointed out on his blog, Ramsey spends more time making CF runs than he does in midfield. He leaves far too many gaps that the opposition easily exploit, leaving Xhaka with far too much defensive work to do. I don’t mean to add to the Ramsey bashing, but at best he should be used as a reserve attacking midfielder to throw on whenever the likes of Ozil, et al, are tired. In order for us to get the best… Read more »


Thank you…


That guy Ndidi at Leicester will be fine with me.


The problem isn’t Ramsey himself. Its the setup. The sheer amount of time Ramsey spent running into the box is as clear an indication as any that this was the role given to him. He was told to do this by the manager. 7amkickoff had the same conclusion. As far as the question of who to bench what is clear is that Ramsey-Xhaka, at least in the way they were used against Stoke, cannot work. One of them will have to be benched (and will probably ultimately leave the club). I am not completely sure that Xhaka is all that… Read more »

Ramseys backheel

This. Wenger was truly succesfull in Vieira’s era and ever since creative players have taken over DMC role, it has left defense vunerable, but I have lost hope by now regarding having that fixed one day. Back three provides more cover in central areas, but then again middfield still looks as vunerable as ever.


Totally right. Bad management or the formation and tactics.




Exactly . Players are at fault at some level but the biggest problem with our team is lack of proper define organisation. arseblog itself has an article analyzing our defensive setup a few days ago. It shows somehow cm players Ramsey xhaka ends up pressing the farthest. The attacking players does not actively participate in it . I don’t know if it is pre-planed or they are just plain bad at it the result is none of our cm players will be in the right place. Or our midfield will be outnumbered. Our team neither press effectively nor stay back… Read more »


Mind you it was Ramseys run from midfield into the box that saw his head meet that ball to deflect it for the winner vs Chelsea of all teams, in that magical FA Cup final.


Yes very well said. To be fair to Ramsey I agree it’s more likely to be the system at fault, not the player. He tends to be much more disciplined when playing for Wales. That said, he often plays as an attacking midfielder/10 for Wales, so I still believe that role is better suited to him.

As has been mentioned before on this site Wenger stubbornly persists with square pegs in round holes and ultimately that is the main problem with the team at the moment (and has been for a long time imo).


All good points. As individual players, i’m a big fan of Xhaka, Ramsey and Ozil, but i don’t think you can play all three in the current formation. It’s the same issue at Chelski when Cesc plays that second CM role. Elneny gets lot of crap on this site, but i actually think we look a lot more balanced and secure with him alongside Xhaka rather than Rambo. Maybe even Coq.

Damo Dinkum

Finally, someone talking sense.


I don’t matter how you set up the midfield….he is still crap.


You had it right after the first three words. 😉


Were you referring to Ronaldo or Wrighty re…” You had it right after the first three words”

Fergal (captain optimistico)

Dolphin, first 3 words = “I don’t matter”

Ulysses 32

Ronaldo? Which one? The narcissistic, cheating twat, or the fat bottler who wasted his talent and got into a bit of a pickle with some ladyboys in a nightclub?

Crash Fistfight

Bit harsh on fat Ronaldo – he won nearly every trophy available, including the World Cup (as top scorer – he had the record for most WC finals goals until Klose broke it as well). His career was pretty much destroyed by injuries. Yes, he didn’t manage his healing process very well by getting fat and indulging in dodgy goings on, but it probably got him a bit depressed after the succession of bad injuries he got.


Spot on by Wright.


Like it or not FC34 should be a starter. He is the only midfielder we have who gives us some defensive stability. And give chambers some playing time. He’s better than Holding and I have no idea why he’s being treated like this. Also could someone please teach Welbeck how to shoot.


exactly my sentiments

Donald\'s Trump

Sell welbeck.

Chambers – I’m guessing he wasn’t a Wenger signing hence not being given a chance like all the others.


Wrighty is bang on with Ozil comments – when you’ve got a Rolls Royce, you don’t need to take it off road. Give Ozil the ball and let him do his stuff, but the problem is that he is a Roller in a car park with too many Ford Sierras in it.
We should have built a team around Ozil when we bought him, but the only complimentary purchase since has been Sanchez.
2/11 truly world class players is why we are where we are – not because Ozil doesn’t chase back.


You’re not rambling as much nowadays.

Donald\'s Trump

Agreed. The only thing that annoys me is when he ducks under a header.

A different George

Which, I think, happened exactly once. Maybe I missed the other time.

A different George

If they are in my team, I don’t want to set it up so Messi must track back, I don’t want Hazard tracking back. And, by the way, after the formation change against Stoke, Ozil in fact tracked back (because that was now part of his job).

Cliff Bastin

Xhaka + Ramsey at the base of midfield = no one is tackling. Xhaka needs a pure defensive minded player next to him that will win the ball back and give it to him for the long diagonals. Ramsey should instead be rotating with Ozil in that no 10 area of the pitch with no defensive duties. Their different styles would make us more unpredictable.

Donald\'s Trump

It’s not that they can’t work together. Ramsey just needs to stop playing as CF, and this is Wenger’s fault. Either Wenger is telling him to do this or he is not reprimanding him for doing so.




This. Not even necessarily a pure DM, just someone with energy and a bit of pace!! Kante for example would have been the perfect foil to Xhaka’s game, but unfortunately buying him for 500k would have killed Frimpong…and then buying him from Caen would have killed Coquelin

I\'m Professor Ignorance, on that subject

Kante was only available for Leicester because nobody rich realized how good he was. No point in hindsighting Wenger for being one of many on that.

nacho man

well said cliff


We have seen false 9s but Ramsey is simply a virtual midfielder. On paper he’s meant to be in midfield but in reality he’s always ” filling in” for the strikers.

The reason he can’t have a successful partnership is because of his own lack of positional awareness.
He’s not a bad player but that’s probably the reason the boss always kept him on the wing.

Donald\'s Trump

Is it his lack of awareness? Surely Wenger would have told him by now to hold his position. He can’t be that stupid to do it every game and if he is why is he still in the team?

He must be being told to play this way. There is no way anyone would play so far out of position and get away with unless they were told to do so.


Ramsey was ahead of Lacazette for Stoke’s goal. Özil was the only one to track back.
And what about the other AM in the PL? Silva was fantastic to let Everton draw in City? De Bruyne was fabulous? Why no stick to them?

Donald\'s Trump

Because I would guess that they work with strikers who finish the chances they create.
Also they are slightly different in that both of them can change the game by themselves.

A different George

I certainly enjoyed all those fabulous City midfielders allowing Wayne Rooney, who looks only a hair quicker than Mertesacker, to slowly stroll unmarked into the area and take up a solid stationary position about a dozen yards from goal, have a nice cup of coffee awaiting the cutback, and finally–finally–score.

I think Özil is an easy target for some pundits, it get right on my tits


I swear, I wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to leave England just to get away from all the bellends in the media.


I suspect that is the agenda.


All about clicks – huge social following = lots of story clicks for that lovely ad revenue probably…the whole thing with ozil is ridiculous, if we were more ruthless in front of goal in finishing off his key passes everyone would be lining up to suck his (through) balls.


Ozil is the first name on the team sheet for Germany. You know, that team which regularly wins things or at least progresses to the business end of the tournament. The same eejits who don’t understand Ozils game praise to the heavens the contributions of such footballing luminaries as Henderson, Milner and Garry Barry. Essentially cross country runners who have traded in their spikes for football boots. These experts are as much the reason why England produces footballers – not players, footballers- like Ozil less than once in a generation, as an FA that is stuck back in the dark… Read more »


Spot on ?

Crash Fistfight

True, but you’ve got to have someone doing the donkey work behind players like Ozil. Even Zidane realised that at Real Madrid, and brought in Casemiro.


This. Casemeiro brings so so much balance to Real Madrid it’s unbelievable. The fact that Zidane bought Llorente, another tidy defensive midfielder, right after a season when they won everything, speaks volume of how important that role is.


Which is not down to Ozil.

Crash Fistfight

No, I agree. I was just referring to your point about people waxing lyrical about cloggers like Henderson. They might be technically awful, but you need someone like that, doing the donkey work.


If you look at real carefully you will realise that kroos and modric hold their position. That helps casemiro.

Ramsey might be better than Elneny but the Egyptian paired well with Xhaka simply because they were always in the right positions.

That said Xhaka has been a bit horrible these two league games. Even though he got us a few assists.

A different George

I’m not sure about the “even” Zidane–who always understood the importance of Makelele.

Crash Fistfight

Didn’t mean to denigrate Zidane’s ability as a manager – I just meant that with the brilliant attacking players available to him at Real, you wouldn’t think a defensive midfielder would be that important.

Glory hunter

We’ve had the same problem for years, Arsene fills his team with no 10’s. A few years back we had Cesc, Hleb, Rosicky & Diaby. Now he’s reduced it to just 2 in Ozil and Ramsey so i guess that’s progress. Wright is spot on, i only just watched the Stoke game yesterday and Ozil created so many chances. We need to play Coq & Xhaka at the base, and occasionally rest Ozil for Ramsey


And/or play Ramsey and Ozil together as dual inside forwards when Sanchez is unavailable (basically, where Welbeck is currently).


Rest ozil for iwobi maybe. You need your 10 creating not waiting to poach


Thank f**k. A pundit talking some sense!


Özil is World Class. Those who don’t recognize that fact don’t know the dogs ass about soccer. 10 chances created and over 90 successful passes in the final third in two games. Wright is right

Julian Seade

I think Wenger got the set-up wrong right from the onset because I didn’t see the reason why he fielded two left-footed players in the persons of Monreal who struggled to cope with Stoke City’s threat from the left, and Kolasinac in defense and used Bellerin on the left flank who is not used to that. In my candid opinion, Wenger should have fielded Bellerin in right back; moved Mustafi to central defense and either Kolasinac/Monreal to left back or left wing back.


Ramsey and Xhaka crowded Özil out of possession and Ramsey for the most part monopolized the no 10 role against Stoke. And he went missing when we lost the ball. I’ve written before that Ramsey was quite good on the ball against Stoke. But he’s not as good in the no 10 role as Özil is, and probably never will be. Just give the ball to Özil please!

John C

Exactly, if Ramsey was alongside Xhaka in the centre circle there’s a good chance the Stoke goal would have been cut out. Ramsey need to play 20 yards further back as he condenses the attack and gets in the way. He needs to be making late runs into the box not starting in the box.


He was good on the ball but off it was horrendous. So many sideways passes because our CM isnt coming back to receive the ball. Overcrowding and little space to run into because our CM isn’t coming back to receive the ball. And the few times he did, it went straight back. His inability to distribute through the middle is killing the team. Ozil finally has to drop back just to get the ball, taking him wildly out of position, he looks up, everyone standing still…


I don’t get it. Ozil was easily our best player against Stoke?


Bang on


I’m tired of pretending that we don’t have to make major sacrifices/allowances to accommodate Ozil.

I’m inclined to defend him because he’s an arsenal player , but ….

Would prefer peak Ozil or peak Fabregas ?
Peak Ozil or peak Silva ?

At his best he’s still not as good as these guys, and the frustrating thing is he could be but doesn’t have that extra motivation .

Draped in velvet

Wrighty told me to “shut the fuck up, please”, once (I was being quite noisy when he was trying to do a tv interview in St Johns Wood). I was soo proud!☺☺ Oh, and he’s right sbout Ozil, too.


sad story, “bruh”


I love Wrighty..but would he have backed Ozil if played for another Club?


I’m a huge fan of Xhaka ever since he joined us, but he’s lack of carelessness in defence has proven dreadful from time to time. I believe this is the third time (if not more?) that he furiously rushes into a challenge after making a mistake, leaving the space behind him open. The Xhaka/Ramsey partneship has its potential, but when you have Ramsey who constantly darts forward and looking for a scoring opportunity, Xhaka should know better then charging like he did before the Jese goal. Now, I know that this article is about Mesut and not Xhaka or Ramsey,… Read more »


Bloody Gerrard and the gang with their usual waffle. Never mind the fact that half the team seem to be playing different positions as to what they are used to. Nah it’s Ozil’s fault…… Annoys the hell out of me because some on here actually believe their waffle.


Gerrard is not fit to lace Ozils boots. He should get back to knocking off younger birds in his central Liverpool flat and mixing with his crime family mates.


Keown is the latest one jumping on the bandwagon, slaughtered Mert before the FA Cup final and then expected to be greeted like a long lost friend in the dressing room after the game, and then ripping into Mesut after the Stoke game. I guess he just doesn’t understand players with intelligence.

A different George

There’s lots of competition for those pundit jobs, and below the big ex-superstars, the only way to stay is to say things that provoke controversy.


The thing is, Özil is sooooo much better with Coquelin on the field. I know he’s limited but I think le Coq could really stabilize our midfield short term.


Coq isn’t a liability. He’s a tank, and we need a tank. They can’t all be No 10’s. Coq might not be the obvious choice going forward… but they don’t all need to go forward. That’s the point of a defensive midfielder. We have loads of creative midfielders, attacking midfielders, insert-random-position-here midfielders. We *need* someone to do the mopping up. And the Coq does that. Is he the best DM (or whatever) in the world? No. Is he the best we’ve got? Yes! And, to me atleast, he’s a fighter, and someone with an above average work-ethic. We can’t have… Read more »


Plus he leaps through the air throwing any part of his body in the road of a ball. Exactly what you want in a defensive player, and the team needs!!!


He was superb on attack in the Cup final. C’mon Arsene, get the Coq out. Fancy missing out on Chris Wood to Burnley. Our transfer dealers are shite. Bargain. Kiwi. Hope he torches Spuds at Wembley this weekend. Get in my son.


I thought Ozil played well against Stoke, he’s an easy target for lazy punditry. Fuck pundits, this I s why I like watching the football on a Russian feed, I don’t have to listen to fucking pundits spouting utter shite. Actually makes me enjoy football much more.

Indian Gooner

Brilliant assessment. Hopefully someone from the Arsenal football club..takes note of it and does something serious about it like getting a new solid defensive mid. Someone so huge and someone who scares the shit out of the opponent. Chelsea have sold Matic to Man Utd.. why haven’t we made use of it? We could have given them the Ox and got him instead.. it would have been a great deal.. even now.. why don’t we sell them the Ox and get costa instead from them? I know he wants a move back to Madrid but who would seriously want to… Read more »


Ozil is the best player in pLG that’s what I believe


Just this…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNxGjiMKse8 great insight into santi and ozil, love this – miss him. The line, where’s mesut at should be what most of our players should be thinking…


It’s about time someone stuck up for him. The way pundits trash players like Özil, you would swear that their ideal vision of football is all players mindlessly chasing the ball like school kids.

Block 93

I’m a big fan of Ozil although I find him frustrating at times. I do think the narrative around him is lazy, tiresome and ill-informed. It’s become an easy fall-back option for the pundits to focus on him (“Arsenal lost a game, let’s blame Ozil”) without actually looking at the full picture or take the time to bring a new perspective to their analysis. It’s like the script has been written in advance and they all just stick to it rigidly without bringing anything new to the party…. He’s not had a great start to the season but with the… Read more »


Completely agree. We need someone hard in the midfield to free Ozil up to do what he does best.


I totally agree with Ian.


Interesting given Wrighty’s always on Ozil’s back. Even Saturday he was saying he looked like he doesn’t care enough.


Glad I’m not a complete idiot (only partial) and am not the only one thinking this. Why on Earth you have one of the best pure CAMs playing on the flanks no one but Arsene will ever know. Terrible selection and you set him up to fail every time.


Ulysses 32…what the hell are you on man…give it up what ever it is…as its doing in your little brain

Faisal Narrage

Ramsay should’ve been a false 9 ala Van P.


I agree. We know he has the workrate and stamina to cause some chaos to the opp CB. He definitely is more creative at finishing then TW or DW.


100% agree with Ian

Darren Blakey

Ramsey Xakha not good enough perhaps coquelin and Willshere should have a go in the centre until we buy someone.
Our problem is Wenger to long in the job we need a new leader


I really don’t understand why people are picking on Ozil. He stands out in arsenal. He is difficult to get the ball off him. His passing is second to none. He gets the stick coz arsenal way of play is so predictable that all the managers of the other teams know how to neutralise their attacking play. Having majority possession counts for nothing. Arsenal should use fast counter attacks just like Chelsea who have perfected that art


Wright is right. At least on this count (he is often way off) 1) Ozil. We are lucky we have him. Contributed to at least two fantastic opportunities which (through no fault of his)( Welbeck squandered with his shoulder and (I believe) Bellerin miscued. He could have tracked Jese all the way but in truth, Monreal should have been tighter on the fellow Spaniard but hesitated in unfamiliar role (courtesy of manager) He’s not the chap to dig you out of a hole. Instead, we need to find a way to use him more efficiently and gain benefit from his… Read more »


IMO, we should not need to look for a DM type. We already have one waiting to be properly unleashed in Le Coq. BUT he needs the right partner who can cover him with positional maturity. Ramsey as I mentioned instinctively is better higher up in lieu of Ozil. When he plays with Coquelin or Granit, he will be OK for a while but his old habits will come through. If we had a technical merchant who also has experience to cultivate the ball next to Coquelin (the way Santi could do), we can assume a 4-2-3-1 and add firepower… Read more »


Wright saying what we have all been saying. If these issues are so obvious to us why can’t the manager see them and fix them?

Teryima Adi

Wright is right. Ozil is an asset to this team. Play to his strength. He will never be your tough tackling midfielder,we might as well live with that.


Absolutely Right mr Ian ozil is not a player to about making Recovery and winning balls bt if he has the ball as long as the forwards know hoe tp position themselves he can give the best penetrating passes to strikers who know of the ball runnings!


I would avoid playing Xhaka and Ramsey all together. With Ozil up serving the attack function, the last thing you need would be Xhaka and Ramsey trying to create play themselves all together. Instead, play Xhaka alongside Elneny in front of the CBs. Although I still feel Elneny still lacks in the technical department of the game, he makes up for his stamina and energy, running box to box, winning challenges while providing just about decent contribution in offence. Then, put Ramsey on the bench, as an offence option when we’ve got nothing to lose. Yes, Ramsey has good offensive… Read more »


When he does track back our counterattacks have no venom apart from sanchez there is not a creative thought in any of welbeck ramsey walcott iwobi

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