Thursday, July 18, 2024

Column: Stats nerds might appreciate Mesut Ozil, but real football men know better

Graham Dougan was a youth prospect at Arsenal in the 1970s but never quite made the grade, making his career in the upper echelons of the old division two. He was also a Scottish U25 international. He is a regular pundit on TV in Malta and Luxembourg, and an after-dinner speaker of some repute.

He’ll write a column exclusively for the site and we hope you’ll enjoy his keen insight. This week he looks at the recent performances of Mesut Ozil.

To some he is a creative genius, like Picasso, Michelangelo or Vermicelli. To others he looks like Marty Feldman with TB, but there’s no question that Mesut Ozil is a player who divides opinion.

I look at him in awe sometimes. His eye for a pass is second to none except for one or two, and he has the tools to unpick the lock of every defence in world football apart from a few I can think of.

But for the most part he’s got great ability on the ball. The questions are over how hard he works. For all the incisive passing and ‘assists’ he provides, there’s a sense – and sadly as there’s no way to back this up definitively I have to trust my gut and my eyes – that he doesn’t work as hard as he should.

The shoulders slump, the head goes down, he ambles around the pitch, and you think to yourself ‘If only he had a bit of someone like Scotty Parker in him, he’d be the complete player’.

I’m reminded of Top Trumps, where each card is assigned a number to different criteria, and Ozil would be a great one to have if the category was ‘vision’ or ‘creativity’ but he’d definitely be a poor one to hold if you were trying to beat someone for ‘passion’ or ‘wanting it’ or ‘running around to make the opposition’s life difficult’.

I remember the Arsenal fans dancing with joy when Ozil was signed from Real Madrid for what was then a club record fee. Are those fans dancing now? I can’t see into everyone’s house like God, but while I’m sure a few are still bopping away, many more are standing in the corner holding their pint of best and thinking ‘This man does not stir my loins the way he did when he first arrived’.

Nowadays, people try all sorts of ways to prove to you that a player is good. They churn out the stats and for those of us who really understand the game we know they are nonsense. Back in my day there was no such thing as an ‘assist’. There was only a goal and occasionally a ‘Bloody good pass, Trevor’, but we didn’t give out a prize at the end of season award to the player who had made the most ‘assists’ because football was a team game back then.

I mean, where will it stop? Will they start producing stats for how far a player runs during a game, or how many touches of the ball he has? We can all see that when we watch the match but there’s no need to count because football isn’t about numbers it’s about goals which, of course, can be counted like numbers but in reality they’re not.

As for all this Expectation Goals nonsense, give me strength. I’ll tell you when you can expect a goal: when you get a good cross into the back post and one of your two burly centre-forwards straight-arms the centre-half in the back of the head and powers home a header.

Going back to Ozil, he was superb against Spurs in the derby two weeks ago, and his display against Huddersfield helped Arsenal to a win they didn’t really deserve, but you have to ask where has that been for the last few years? It’s all well and good turning up for two games, but what else has he done?

Where was he when Arsenal really needed him? You think back to the FA Cup last May and I barely remember him playing and but for the stout defending of Per Mertensacker they would have lost that game.

I remember when I was playing, a teammate had two cars. One was his day to day vehicle for getting to and from training, the other was a luxury motor which looked good, drove like a dream, and got him where he needed to go faster than anyone else and in some style.

That’s Ozil, and what Arsenal really need is a good old fashioned Ford Granada.

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It’s a joke, right? If yes, it’s not even funny.


I also spend my time criticizing the humour of free content around the internet.


If your mate tells you a shit joke you tell him it’s a shit joke. This is worse as it goes on for far too long.


Someone not finding it funny I understand, everyone’s sense of humour is different after all. Someone struggling to understand that it’s meant to be funny ? (particularly when it’s one of the same people who had the same reaction the last time there was this column?) Frankly, that’s just a bit weird.

It Is What It Is

Shats fired.



Alex, you need to see someone.


How is “does not stir my loins” not funny?


The best part of these Dougan articles is watching newcomers slowly come to terms with satire.


that article didn’t tell me much


“Going back to Ozil, he was superb against Spurs in the derby two weeks ago, and his display against Huddersfield helped Arsenal to a win they didn’t really deserve”

Had to be said. Agree completely.

The last two games, if nothing else, have illustrated that Arsenal haven’t got a hope in hells chance of winning the PL. How many games is that we could have and should have lost this season but we have fluked points, it really is embarrassing now. We want or Arsenal back.

Sanllehi, Sanllehi, what the FUCK do you do?


You’ve embarrassed yourself. We win and you complain we should have lost. Don’t get that attitude. Oh, and check before you publish: we want or Arsenal back?


I’m guessing you didn’t like my small tribute to this absolutely brilliant article 🙂


Did you know an original Vermicelli stands in his drawing room?


It’s like a politician taking the piss out of the characters in The Thick of It



We have 24 games left and. 72 points.

City lose 2 back to back and the gap is close to 6pts

If we beat united we cut our gap to them to 1point.

What nonsense is this.

If players had the same bottle as you do, there will definitely be little chance of success…just throw in the towel now.


You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.


he wont be missed

Dr Zebra

Said Ronaldo at Real?


“You sell Alexis / and buy a lot of Parkers” ?




I guess in those good ole’ days you could say “that’s a bloody bad article, Trevor!”


Gotcha at Vermicelli!!


That had me in stitches!

The rich

Brilliant article. Ozil is an amazing talent who’s a real joy to watch at times but not at others. He’s certainly worth starting when he’s fit. But Have we put the right type of talent/attributes behind him or in front of him? To get the best out of him? He always played better with Cazorla behind him. Would we function better as a team with a different type of midfielder? Arsene generally hasn’t put this squad together with any type of planning Our signings are usually opportunistic, or made out of lack of planning or decisiveness… as was the Ozil… Read more »


You mean we didn’t sell Gervinho to Roma, so that Pamela can go to spurs, so that spurs can sell bale to RM and RM to sell us Özil?


I’d want a Ferrari for my runaround car…and one that cost the price of Ford Granada bc Wenger managed to want me a deal iutvof someone over his head in debt and willing to sell on…like ere Santi.


Such insight.
Such analysis.

A Yank In King Arsene\'s West Stand

Top, top column. Would love to see a football roundtable with Graham, Philomena Cunk, and Barry Shitpeas.


I came to the comments to chuckle at people who don’t understand satire. I was not disappointed.


I’ll be honest BennisBergkamp, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The lack of intelligence from people lashing out over this is kinda terrifying.


It really is hilarious how many people ALWAYS take this column so seriously. Well, it might actually be more worrying then anything else…


I’m waiting for Trump to retweet it.

Damo Dinkum

“we didn’t give out a prize at the end of season award to the player who had made the most ‘assists’ because football was a team game back then.”

If people aren’t laughing at this point, Lord help us all.


And that’s why he didn’t make the grade at Arsenal




Err, that is a photo of O’Reilly, the builder from a Fawlty Towers episode?


Not funny. Not remotely informed. Is this guy even an Arsenal fan? Keeps referring to us as “they” – what’s that about? By far my least favourite column on my most favourite site 🙂


Oh dear


Tell me about it..don’t know how this muppet gets a slot? Must’ve spent an hour looking through my old programs, almanac and google and no mention of this no-mark… clearly failed at football…now at analysis…should be binned!!!

Fox in the box

Ffs… You for real?


too true, im sure ozil would do alright abroad, but here he is absolute shit.


Weekly column not required, Blogs. I want more for my £0.00!


In the words of Drax the Destroyer, “Nothing goes over my head; my reflexes are too fast. I would catch it!”


Exactly. We need more analysts like you and Lawrence Gray-Hodson.


Middle name Souness?


The timing of this, what shit did I just read. Its looks like bad attempt to become ArsenalFanTV


Nice take on Ozil. Will you do more pieces on general stuff or mainly on players? I think our issue is mainly one of teamwork, rather than an individual player. Especially when you have a excitable border collie in Alexis and try to pair him with a great dane like Ozil. Okay the dog analogy is a little loose, just trying to explain why there seems to be something missing out of possession and backup this point that you made. Ozil is firstly a highly intelligent player. He won’t chase a ball if he knows there are unmarked opponents. Call… Read more »


I respectfully don’t agree Graham. You remind me of the argument in Hip hop. These days of “it was better in the day” “It’s changed too much” Football has changed, so has everything in the world its evolved. Stats actually help us to say you know what for all the running around Scott Parker did he was average and thats why he mostly played for mostly average teams. Ozil embodies the German stereotype. He is efficient and he looks better in a better team. You don’t stick a Rolls Royce in a field.


Excellent response

Josh trainor

Cannot for the life of me work out if this column is written in a tongue in cheek manner or not. If not, I’d implore you not to allow Graham another… Stone Age opinions on modern day football are worthless. I’d take game information based on stats over the body language readings of an old man brought up in an era when players drunk like fans and “stick it up em they don’t like it” was a used football pitch phrase. Graham is the kind of chap who would take one look at Messi and dismiss his abilities based on… Read more »

Damo Dinkum

“I’ll tell you when you can expect a goal: when you get a good cross into the back post and one of your two burly centre-forwards straight-arms the centre-half in the back of the head and powers home a header.”

Come on, what’s mistimed, misinformed and dated about that?


Dafuq did I just read


I hope all the people not chuckling are not British, at least you have some excuse for not appreciating this flavour of satire. If you ARE British I… Smh (written by a Yank)

Excellent rhubarb Arseblog.

Kristian Linz

I Norway we have a saying; It ain’t necessary good article, just bacause Its satire article


Norwegians must have a saying for everything!

A Different George

Also a skier.

Damo Dinkum


Kristian Linz

We have a saying that says; Norwegians have a saying for everything and that ozil is one of the finest since Carlos Valderama.


For fucks sake people its meant to be satire, surely that’s obvious right??

It Is What It Is

You, like many others, are a seemingly decent person. By decent, I mean good, well above average, on a ‘blog commenter’ level. (I don’t know you personally, so i’m loath to jump the gun and say that you are a good person in real life. Heck, we have an ex-priest, a rambler…you could be anyone). Why? Either for wanting to defend the article and writer, or hoping (against all hope, and odds) that all fingers are equal, and its really not that bad. It clearly is that bad. Definitely, nailed on, for me at least. And then I find out… Read more »


You hit the nail on the head with that fair assessment.

Robin van Pussy

Honestly most guys don’t understand Ozil ,he’s such a visionary he controls play in the most subtle ways , even when he doesn’t play the killer pass like he did last night , he will make a pass or movement that allows others to make a great play, case in point for the first goal against Huddersfield yesterday he played that ball into xhaka probably knowing full well that it was two touches away from a goal. Great to see Ramsey and Granit learning the small things from him its like we have three number 10s


Sorry but it was Lacazette that played the ball into Xhaka>>>Ramsey>>>Lacazette>>>Goal. Ozil gave the ball to Lacazette before that.


Haha, a little too cerebral for some, aye blogs?


Which confirms my worries for the future of this world. We’re doomed.


People here just criticizing the article in comments section are pathetic. Back in my days, we used to find the author and kick his butt to bleeding, if we did not like a certain article.


Ahh, The Doogster, as he was affectionately known on the Clock End…,,


Graham has a point, would you take Ozil over Scotty Parker, Michael Brown or Karl Henry? That’s what I thought.

Inflamed Pulis

My family had a silver Ford Granada with a burgundy interior back in the ’70s. For the time period, I’d rate it 6 out of 10.

A young Eddie McGoldrick

This satire is absolutely spot on in places, so much so that it confused me as to whether it is satire or not. I’m only reading Wikipedia from now on.

Petits Handbag

I hope non Arsenal fans don’t read the comments section. Some of you our making us look like right mugs.


The number of people not getting the satire is a bit worrying.
I was chuckling throughout the article and that comparision to Scotty Parker was just too good. Admittedly, I struggled to get a lot of the British humour in Graham’s previous articles but this one was pretty easy to figure out…or was it? Seeing the number of people not able to figure it out is a bit worrying


This one lost me at “Scotty Parker”…


sumps up the mindset when someone expects Ozil to do like ” Scotty Parker in him”.. i remember back when many stupid pundits would want Arsenal to sign
Scotty saying thats what Arsenal need..
wow such a slump in quality of writer now..i am amazed how this guys doesn’t understand assist.. one of the worst articles i have read.


if this is meant to be a satire then kudos but i must admit i hav never read graham before so not able to catch where this was a sattire…:)
definitely using Scotty Parker riled me up …:)


If football is about scoring goals then Özil is great. If football is about tackling, pushing, pulling and physical fights then Özil is shit. There´s the “big” enigma.
For me he is great – I dont expect him to be physical and doing flying tackles all over. However we need someone behind Özil that can “clean up after him and make interceptions and tackles and read the game defensively. There´s where AW has failed.


Forgive me for playing the man a bit here, but this comment section has done nothing to quell a few opinions I had been forming.

And I’ll leave it at that for the sake of Victoria Concordia Crescit.


So true. Please could we group fans at the Emirates by IQ?


Shockingly poor column! What kind of Arsenal fan are you? Of course he did not deliver in every single game but who does bar Messi and Ronaldo maybe?! Mesut has been highly influential and productive since he arrived at Arsenal, creating loads of goals. But he’s not only about assists, he makes things happen, very rarely gives a pass away and scores some goals himself. It’s no coincidence that without Mesut, Arsenal couldn’t create anything decent at Burnley. And his work rate? Of course he could do more but who couldnt? Do you see Messi, Neymar or Coutinho chase back?!… Read more »


One of Graham’s best. Had me laughing from Vermicelli onwards. At least up until the comments when it became obvious that it went way over the heads of many.


What a load of rubbish! 2nd division footballer, Scottish youth teams!? That might as well be Sunday league back then!
Malta and Luxembourg -Those hotbeds of football!!! – NOT!!
You would rather Scott Parker to mesut ozil!? That’s like saying you prefer McDonald’s to a fillet steak!!
Mr Dougan you are a joke!!
Get this clown off the blog!!
It sounds like mesut did more last night in 10mins than you did in your whole career!!
Your a bitter nobody, who wishes he had a quarter the talent of ozil!!


Calm down. Mr Dougan doesn’t exist. It’s satire.


How very dare you. We on the clock end salute “The Galway Galloon” . Top man who never shirked a challenge despite the loss of an arm.

Fox in the box

Certainly is a ‘nobody’ ?


“His eye for a pass is second to none except for one or two, and he has the tools to unpick the lock of every defence in world football apart from a few I can think of.”

This make me laugh…


Ian Wright prattling on about Ozil only good for “this type of opponents” (meaning disrespectfully Huddersfield) is the real fool.

He forgot Ozil also helped take apart Spurts not a week ago?

The same Spurts him and his media pack would seem Arsenal lucky to emulate.

Media very quiet about genius Ponchentino and power shift lately.


Tired of British commentators talking about “how hard he works” Brits haven’t won a world cup since the 60s… Why do these “real football men” insist they know “real football”… What have they won to say an English style is superior? I don’t see anyone hiring a homeless real estate agent so why are all these British pundits offering their opinion on how a world cup winner should play? I don’t see Barca Real Bayern Juve United Chelsea hiring English coaches… So why do English commentators think they know “what arsenal needs”?

Fox in the box

Hi Chris, you are some craic! Doogs forever…


Poor old Doogs, he was a great prospect until he lost an arm and ended up as a waiter in ‘Robin’s Nest’ – what a waste.


Oh how quickly we forget…..


The best article I’ve read today bar none, with the exception of one or two.


Laugh-out-loud stuff. Thanks. Here’s hoping Ozil builds on this run of superb form and challenges the assist record again. And stays healthy!


This article is a joke
and you are a hater of Özil.
You mentioned that football is not about numbers!
So who wins the game!
if a team scored 1 goal and the apponent scored 2 goal,Then who is the winner?


Probably the worst article I have ever read on this usually brilliant website. Full of clichés, of “it was better before” (and I’m not even that young) and simply poorly written. At least not at all to the standard of what we are used to.


“I’m not even that young”. Well clearly a little too young to understand satire.

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