Date: 5th February 2014 at 8:18pm
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The CIES (Centre International d’Etude du Sport) Football Observatory is a respected football research institute based in Switzerland which was set up 10 years ago and works with most of the footballing authorities including Fifa. Every week they post a ‘Big Five’ data sheet focussing on some aspect of football in the 5 major European leagues.

This week, in conjunction with Opta, their data ranks individual players of the month for January in each of the outfield roles in each league. It’s no great surprise to see Koscielny and Mertesacker ranked 1st and 2nd respectively as EPL centre backs nor that we don`t have anyone among the top three forwards. It probably isn’t wholly unexpected that Sagna might be ranked 2nd among full backs and given that we’ve used a number of different players as central/defensive midfielders in the month of January neither is it unreasonable that we don’t have anyone featuring there.

More pleasing for me, but only because I seemed to have read much over the last month along the lines that Ozil has been underwhelming of late, is that Mesut is ranked 2nd as an offensive midfielder and Cazorla 3rd. David Silva topped that section and there’s a kind of synergy there because as good as Silva is he isn’t really a flamboyant player either and much of his work can pass you by. Therein lies something of the difficulty in appreciating Ozil. For £42m you might expect a player waltzing through the opposition nutmegging defenders while throwing bewildering step overs before crashing the ball into the net. What we bought was something of much greater subtlety. While Rosicky’s bursts of pace can catch the eye Mesut’s shuffle to create space to make a pass can seem casual but in terms of effectiveness his contribution is usually even more telling.

According to figures Ozil has made 55 key passes, those that lead to goal scoring opportunities even though they might not result in a goal. Closest to him is now Cazorla with 33 while Wilshere is on 29. He is also our leading assist maker with 8, having joined once the season had already been underway for a few weeks, while making more passes than anyone else. His shots and goals could be higher but they are still respectable compared to others in the squad given that he is still settling into the side.

It maybe that we’ll never appreciate Ozil as a lethal goal scorer though I’m sure his contribution will be worthy enough but to really appreciate him as a player may take a little more careful consideration as he isn’t going to be among the most flamboyant of players. Something Wenger may have been alluding to last month when speaking of Ozil when he said ‘He is very much appreciated by his team-mates….That’s a real compliment you can get when you are a football player.’ and ‘You would speak with everybody who plays in this team, they always rate him very highly.’

Take a look at the end of season dvd though and I suspect we’ll see him quite often at key moments in the game highlights. Certainly the CIES seemed to have recognised what he does.

The same data sheet reflects positively on a good month for the team with Arsenal players filling 5 of the 15 PL rankings – more than any other side. Maybe the team can slowly be appreciated a little more too.

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