It appears that Arsene Wenger is determined to turn Mesut Özil into a left winger; is this really the best use of a player that has the creative talents and vision that Özil possesses?
In this very brief post, I will use heatmaps derived from Opta data to look at the locations where Özil has received the ball.
The following gif shows season long heatmaps for each season from 2011/12 to 2014/15 (so this includes the 4 league games Arsenal has played this season.
(click to open the gif in a larger window)
Özil location of passes received
Özil at Real Madrid
In 2011/12, Özil received passes all across the width of the pitch, but we can see that he most often received the ball on the right wing.
In 2012/13 it is noticeable that Özil played a more central position; this is witnessed by the nice continuous streak of red right across the width of the pitch. It was at this time that Wenger (as indeed most people were) was suitably impressed by Özil’s skills that he decided to raid the Arsenal Piggy Bank and spend in the region of £42m on the German star.
Özil’s time in London
In the 2013/14 season Wenger decided that he didn’t need to play Özil in a central position. Özil is showing virtually no heat in the central portions of the pitch as he received the ball towards either wing. Although there is a little orange on the left wing it is clear that Özil did most of his work from the right wing.
In the current season we can see some heat across the pitch but his main area for receiving the ball is clearly towards the left wing. I know the Premier League season is only 4 games old at this season, but I wonder why Wenger has decided that his German should be shunted across to the left wing. Lest we forget, it wasn’t his performances from this position that he made Wenger pay in excess of £40m for his talents.
Surely Wenger should be trying to see if he can fit Özil into central positions, or at the very least towards the right wing?
My daughter got a pet rabbit a few months ago, she enjoys its company but she now wants a dog. I don’t want to get her a dog as I know the rabbit will be cast aside as all her attention will be diverted to her new pet dog. Surely Mesut Özil is too good to be the equivalent of my daughter’s pet rabbit.