Arsenal: Against all odds, Unai Emery won over Mesut Ozil

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has brought in his own style that wasn’t supposed to jive with Mesut Ozil. But it’s done more than jive.

Arsenal fans were naturally over the moon when Mesut Ozil joined the club. He was the first superstar signing in years. Plus, it was easy to see that there is not a more “Arsene Wenger” player out there than Mesut Ozil.

Slick passing, cerebral, secure on the ball, he was the ideal player that Wenger would have wanted for his club. The ideal completion of all of his attempts to find the perfect midfielder.

Unai Emery is much different than Arsene Wenger, and from the moment he was introduced as the new head coach, everyone wondered just how he was going to get on with Mesut Ozil, who was a prototypical Wenger player, and not an Emery one.

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Emery built his clubs on athleticism, effort, high pressure and movement off the ball. Basically, all of the physical components of the game, at least primarily.

Ozil built his career on the mental aspects of the game, on vision and understanding. He was not someone who was going to press opposing defenses and he was not someone who was going to track back and defend, even if he was the one who lost the ball. We saw it so many times and we cringed over it.

Ozil was even weeded out of the Emery XI as he struggled to keep himself relevant on the pitch in the wake of a disappointing personal season.

And then Leicester City happened. He was the best he has ever been. And then Crystal Palace happened, and Ozil flipped out at being subbed off early. And then Liverpool happened, and Ozil did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do – he fought tooth and nail for each minute on the pitch. He was determined not to be subbed off again.

He also had to understand that he hadn’t been at his best that match, otherwise he would have just kept doing what he had been doing and let come what may. But he didn’t. He dug in and fought for his time.

Now, Ozil is saying that he could see himself finishing his career at Arsenal, where once he was open about going to Turkey in his later years to play there before he retires.

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This isn’t a coincidence. Mesut Ozil has been won over by Unai Emery, whereas many, myself included, wondered if it wouldn’t be Emery that pushed Ozil away.

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