THE FULL ENGLISH: Özil should be ashamed of himself in the wake of Arsenal’s defeat.
With yet another English side unceremoniously dumped out of Europe’s top competition last night, Really Like Football’s George England asks the question, when will footballers stop swapping shirts for other shirts and start swapping them for match winning performances?
Crash! Bang! Wallop! That was the sound of Arsenal’s Champion’s League dream last night skidding to an impromptu close in Monaco. Much like a precision tuned Formula One vehicle navigating a suburban town centre, Arsene Wenger’s side look very pretty, but just don’t quite get the job done when they need to.
This is nothing new of course, for years now we’ve seen the Gunners fail to produce when it really matters, leaving them consistently just a bit better than Tottenham but still adrift of the teams that really matter.
So why is it that the once famous Wenger sides of the late nineties and early noughties, that would approach big fixtures with passion, verve and tenacity now crumple at the first sign of adversity?
Let me focus your attention to last night’s game. Leading one nil at half time courtesy of an Olivier Giroud goal (which he incidentally didn’t celebrate, presumably out of respect whilst playing against his fellow countrymen) Arsenal still needed a further two goals to see them overcome the first leg deficit.
Such circumstances call for big performances and big characters, the sort of performances you’d expect from a club record signing perhaps? So why was the 42.5 MILLION pound Mesut Özil literally gifting his shirt to opposition midfielder Geoffrey
Kondogbia? With the momentum going Arsenal’s way at that stage of the game, you’d sooner expect to see him pleading with the referee to forgo the fifteen minute half time break, as opposed to sullenly wandering toward the dressing room stopping only to grab himself a memento of failure.
Albeit bizarre for a German (Özil’s actual parentage is Turkish) to surrender anything to a Frenchman, it’s symbolic gestures such as these that are less and less surprising amongst this nouveaux wave of selfie-obsessed peacocks that Wenger is nurturing at present. More interested in their latest haircuts than in their obligation to the fans who are spending their hard earned money to put those haircuts on their heads.
Can you imagine the likes of Adams, Keown, Parlour or Merson condoning a half-time shirt swap? I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be in Mesut Özil’s shoes wandering into that particular dressing room.
You only have to take one look at Chelsea, a side comfortably walking to another Premier League title, lead by the lion-hearted John Terry, to see why Arsenal’s over-reliance upon imported talent is backfiring catastrophically.
The message from the Gunners’ board and supporters needs to be decisive, shape up or ship out.
Winners don’t swap their shirts, they fight for them.