Ozil Gets Stick, But Does Sanchez Do Anything Anymore
It’s almost customary now, isn’t it? Arsenal lose a game away from home, and the focus is, as well as their lack of spine, on Mesut Ozil, the Gunners’ supposed enigma. After defeats in the league at Liverpool and Watford, the light was quick was to be shown towards the German, a symbol of the Gunners constant absence of steel and backbone.
But things seemed a bit different on Sunday after the loss at Manchester City. It wasn’t a question of Arsenal possessing no form of mettle or guts, but a rather an actually decent performance against the Premier League leaders. They never looked like they would go the distance and really trouble City, but they were never particularly out of sight either, and there was certainly no shame in losing 3-1 to the turbo-charged Mancunians. Nevertheless, some fingers were always going to be pointed at Ozil, as they’ve been all season, and the last one as well.
They were questions as to whether Arsene Wenger would start without Ozil on Sunday, amidst a switch to a more cautious approach, questions Wenger had been quick to render moot on Friday. And at the Etihad, when his side started in impressive fashion, pressing the City backline, winning the ball quickly and making inroads into the opposition area, Ozil was a contributory factor in their play. And he has been contributory in their play of late, involving himself in three goals (scoring one and making two) in their last three league games, admittedly his only direct goal involvements this season.
It’s hardly surprising anymore that the German, with less than a year left on his contract, is always under such scrutiny. What’s baffling have been the fact that such inquiry hasn’t been placed on Alexis Sanchez, another one with a soon-to-expire contract at the Emirates. The Chilean made no secret of his desire to leave the club in the summer, and join Manchester City, a move which fell through on deadline day, and ever since his performances have been underwhelming, to put it mildly. Just one league goal this season, two in all competitions, but the biggest issue has been his attitude on pitch, always seems to be sulking, when possession is given away, when a shot flies wide, over quite literally anything.
The trip to the Etihad was one that had been seen as a chance for Sanchez to make a claim on why Manchester City needed him, or at this point wanted him, as the league leaders have been churning out goals and getting on by in irresistible mould without his arrival. After the game, Pep Guardiola said Sanchez ‘did everything’ in ‘the first half’, but he never specified whether right or wrong, which is probably safe on the City manager’s part, as aside from setting up Aaron Ramsey for a shot on the stroke of halftime, Sanchez’s most notable contributions in the entire game for that matter, were delivering a corner straight at a City player, firing shot away in spite after been caught offside, and getting booked for a foul on David Silva. Little wonder he has hardly featured in games this term, and Arsenal have seemed to function better without him on the pitch, even if he did combine well with the rest of the front tree which included Ozil and Lacazette, a game where Ozil delivered a masterclass of a performance.
Sanchez might come good eventually, a player of his quality is likely to deliver the goods at some point in a season of this length, even if his head isn’t quite in the right place. But he’s hardly making a case for himself with his constant uninterested mood.