Saturday, 4 November 2017

Arsenal Vs Manchester City: What Mesut Ozil must master .

For one of the only times in the season, on Sunday, against Manchester City, Arsenal will likely have to relinquish possession. That means that Mesut Ozil must master what he hates.

Given Manchester City’s tendency to dominate games this season with the relentlessly accurate passing, their fluid and controlling midfield, and their suffocating pressing game without the ball, it is highly probable that Arsenal will have to adopt a counter-attacking style at the Etihad on Sunday.
That is not their normal strategy. Arsene Wenger, like Pep Guardiola, has always heralded the importance of possession. He wants his teams to be in the ascendancy through a superiority of possession. Unfortunately, for that to be the case, his team must be the better of the two. With City, that is not quite true.
In adopting a counter-attacking approach, while being defensively stout and disciplined is, obviously, crucial, another, often overlooked aspect that must be executed is the threat on the break. When teams are facing an opponent who is looking to counter, if they are not wary of their opposition’s ability to create and score goals on blistering breaks forward, then they can play with increased confidence and freedom, which only compounds their dominance as they are able to flood players forward without too much worry of leaving themselves vulnerable in defensive zones.
For Arsenal, then, it is critical that they maintain their creative edge in possession, even though they will have very little of it, and what they do have will predominantly be in the wrong areas of the pitch — deep in their own half seeing as City are unlikely to lose the ball anywhere other than in advanced positions.
Ozil creates chances through sheer volume of probing passes into the penalty area. While his decision making is usually excellent, he can be a little lazy when it comes to the final pass or shot, often confusing himself as ideas tick through the whirring cogs of his pitch-dissecting mind. That is a particular problem when he is starved of possession. Against City, he must do what he hates. Create with little. If he cannot, it could be a very long afternoon indeed.