I was going to hypothesise as to what Arsène might be saying in his mega early press conference (in terms of when the presser is versus when the game is) today, assuming there is one, but instead I think I’ll take my train of thought down an individual player route today.
Last night I Tweeted that I think Özil might just have a big game on Monday evening. That line of thinking wasn’t just born out of an overwhelming desire to counter the persistent naysayers and provide some counterbalance to the negativity of a small selection of Arsenal fans and a larger selection of media hacks, it was more because I’ve been watching him over the last couple of weeks and have been noticing a steady improvement in his game, in comparison with the start of the season that is.
He has been very impressive of late. Good performances against QPR, Everton, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough have allowed him to build confidence and he certainly looks to my untrained eyes as though he is a confidence player.
His influence in linking up the play between the midfield and attack has been more notable and I saw him pick the ball up in or around the centre circle and play that clever on-the-deck diagonal pass to Alexis to set him running a few times against QPR.
So my natural feeling was to say that I think he will have a big game against United on Monday because he’s in form and in confidence. But I also said that others need to play well around him in order to emphasise his own impact and, for my own thinking, I feel like I’ve hit on something I wasn’t seeing. Forgive me if I’m telling you something you already know, but the best way for me to articulate my ‘eureka!’ moments is this here blog, so please endulge me. Anyway, back to my own realisation on Mesut, where was I…
Ah yes, my Tweet, in which I said that he will need others to play well around him in order for him to be seen to have a ‘blinder'; particularly in a ‘big game’ in which many have said he hasn’t performed yet. But to me Özil is like a world class sound engineer for a hit number one, he is integral to its success and without him there can be no top of the charts moneymaker, but he’s not the one that will be stood up on stage at the Brits reviving the adulation and praise. He needs a singer with the voice that propels his artistry to the forefront of the music scene.
Have you ever seen a sound engineer get the praise at the Brits? Admittedly I don’t really watch it but the small bits I have seen haven’t really involved anybody except the singers. The people that are front and centre. The ‘faces’ of the industry.
Özil needs a singer in order to be able to have a ‘big game’. In Ronaldo he had that. He was the pianist and Ronaldo was the well dressed lady sitting on top of the Steinway getting all the attention. Özil is starting to hang out his finest melodies at the moment, but unless he has a Shirley Bassey or Gloria Gayner giving it the justice he deserves, he cannot succeed in matches.
So United away is like a live recording at the Albert Hall. The journos who don’t come to all of Özil’s tour dates around the country don’t always see his performances, but they pay particular attention when he’s on the big stage, which is why his star men of Alexis and Giroud need to be able to ensure their vocal chords/shooting boots are fine tuned. If they are, then I think we’ll see the best of Özil in a big game. If they suffer like the rest of the team, his own performance will probably be magnified in a negative way too, so in a way the risks are higher for him. There is no ‘he had an ok game’. For the price rage he was bought for (not his fault, but he still has to deal with it), he will either be very good or very bad in the media and neutrals eyes, and it’s something that he has to live with. And we do too, actually, highlighting the positive games to counter the negativity from those that aren’t part of the Arsenal fanbase.
Can Özil take Monday nights game by the scruff of the neck, lead by example and inspire his teammates in the same way Alexis does? No. But can he be the maestro that makes a good performance a sublime one? Most certainly.