Posts Tagged ‘Ozil’

There is a thought experiment in quantum mechanics called Schrödinger’s cat, born out of the need to explain the complex nature of theories in quantum mechanics and how they would play out (absurdly so)  in everyday life and how under the proposed theory of the day published in 1935, a quantum system such as an atom could exist in multiple states. These multiple states all corresponding to different outcomes, this was referred to as quantum superpositions. The theory of the day known as the Copenhagen interpretation, stated that a quantum system existed in this superposition until it was interacted with or observed by the outside world. At this point the superposition would fall into one of the definitive states possible.

Schrödinger developed his experiment to show how someone could create a superposition where a large-scale system was dependent on a quantum particle in said superposition. Hence the cat in the box. He wasn’t out to prove the Copenhagen interpretation right, he was out to show how ridiculous the current (in that time) view of quantum mechanics where when applied to everyday life.

There have been different interpretations of this thought experiment throughout the years, some more elaborate, some less, dependent on the audience, but in essence, here is the theory;

A cat is sealed inside of a box. The cat is not alone in this box mind you, it’s sealed along with a contraption built out of a Geiger counter connected via relay to a hammer and a tube of hydrocyanic acid. The last piece of the puzzle is a small piece of radioactive substance. Over the course of an hour, the radioactive substance could remain stable and the cat remains alive or the substance could decay. If the substance decays, it would cause the Geiger counter to go off, setting off the relay that would free the hammer to smash the tube that contains the acid that ultimately kills the cat. Under the Copenhagen interpretation and the view of quantum mechanics, the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Arsenal? Well, let me explain.

First we have the cat. The “cat” for me is achievements; wins, progression in competitions, cups, etc. Then we have the system, the “system” is everything at the club; players, manager, etc. Then finally we have the small substance in a superposition state, that’s Arsenal’s performances. The time allowed for the experiment is the time between matches, where anything and everything is possible, the time where Arsenal exists in multiple states. The opening of the box, the observation from the outside world to see what state Arsenal is in, would be the performance and/or results on match-day Follow me?

We as supporters all throw out different scenarios for any given match. The box is closed. The cat is very much alive or very much dead, we don’t know. We hope it’s alive, we wish above all else it remains alive, when it comes to match-day we cheer it to be alive still, but more often than not these days, we have no idea if we should get the cat food out of the cupboard or go online to shop for burial services, such is the inconsistency surrounding Arsenal.

The nature of the inconsistency is mind-boggling. Let’s take the Monaco match as an example. Arsenal have reinforced, not to the best their ability, but have done so nonetheless. Most of the key players are healthy, the majority of the team has the experience in the Champion’s League thanks to the year in and out of qualification. Finally, after a fair number of years with difficult ties to progress, a seemingly manageable tie was on the cards against an undermanned team, and yet – capitulation ensued. Leading up to the match, after a good run, with the only blip being the NLD loss, one would have thought this was a statement match, yet there was no urgency, no passion, from top to bottom.

Now, Arsenal face a crossroads. It isn’t a crisis as some may have you think. It’s a chase for identity. For so many years, especially for those teams led by Cesc and Co., they were chasing giants and legends of football. Now, this team, with the likes of Ă–zil, Sanchez, Cazorla, Ramsey, they need to make their own way, their own legend, and they are somewhat struggling to come to grips with the label of being a “big team”. You see flashes of it, what Arsenal “could be”. Then you see flashes of what Arsenal were, in those years after the Invincibles, “also-rans”. This current team is dealing with one of the worst cases of multiple personality I can remember in sports. On their day, with the talent available, they can beat anyone, yes, anyone. But on a bad day, they can lose to anyone, yes, again, anyone. The box is closed.

What makes the difference in one match to the next? In a wonderful performance and meltdown? One would say opposition, but that’s not necessarily the case. AFC has beaten good teams and lost to mediocre teams as well. Sometimes week to week. That is not the trait of a settled team, that is not the earmark of a team pushing to be elite, or being pushed?

I hate to say it, but I must bring it up. For 10 years Arsenal were trophyless. There are many reasons, but the truth remains. There have been talented teams that underachieved and so-so teams that may have overachieved. The one constant has been Wenger. There is no denying he was a great manager. I don’t think you can find many that would dispute that. The real discussion is – is AW still one now? He was innovative in tactics, nutrition, etc. Is he still now? Has Arsenal stagnated by clinging on to the past or is this the period where the team is built for the next big run. Are we all fooling ourselves thinking as much? All hard questions. None of us have the answers. That damned box!

For my part, I believe that Arsenal will take that next step, further reinforce, become more consistent. Whether Wenger is a part of that or not remains to be seen. Taking that next step doesn’t guarantee any more success than now though, it just guarantees a better shot at it. Teams like City, Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, PSG, etc. will all continue to spend money on the biggest names. Arsenal will have to become more consistent whilst they close that gap, it won’t be easy, but it can happen, will happen I dare say. For that to happen, there has to be some accountability. If that includes replacing the manager or certain players, so be it. As long as it’s good for the club.

In the meanwhile, there really is nothing to do but support who is on the pitch and who is guiding them from the sideline. There will be no additions and there won’t be a managerial change from now until the end of the season, so there is no point bringing negativity to the party. The first step to cleanse the atmosphere from the loss on Wednesday is Sunday versus Everton. A sign of a good team is being able to bounce back from adversity and Arsenal have managed that over the last few years, giving us all hope. Certainly if Wednesday was meant to be a statement match, after the result, one has to think Everton has now become one as well, more important even.

This is the chance for the players to take a step forward and show what they’re made of. This is a chance for the manager to make changes that signal mediocrity will not be tolerated. For a great many reasons, this match on Sunday could make or break the spirit of this team for the remainder of the season.

I for one back them to make that statement, what about you? Right now, Arsenal exists in multiple states, anything is possible. What will be the outcome? Will the cat be alive or dead? Sunday at 2:05pm we’ll open the box and find out.

Disclaimer

*It must be said that my understanding and knowledge of quantum mechanics and all the attached theories is very basic. I am explaining it to you as I have come to know it, which is to say, how a college professor taught me, a failed athlete that was half paying attention in class when this was taught. I also took the liberty to brush up with web searches, naturally! To those with extensive knowledge on the experiment or this field, my apologies if any mistakes were made.*

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I don’t even know where to start. Various outlets that shall not be named come out to say he’s been lacklustre. Some supporters have stated that he’s not been worth the fee paid.  It seems there is some widespread disappointment of Mesut’s opening months of the season. Where did it all go wrong? Well that’s easy to pinpoint, people at every level not understanding what the player brings and what’s been missing from the team to optimize his performances.

Ă–zil’s “pros” run deeper than X goals, X assists, X chances created, X passing percentage,  although those are not too shabby. According to Squawka those numbers currently sit at 4 goals, 7 (others list 8) assists, 51 chances created(the most in Europe) and 88% passing percentage in 17 league appearances. Add to this tally 6 pre-assists or second assists, like the one he had versus Villa when he sent Monreal in who squared the ball for Jack’s goal.

I had the privilege of watching the player live on a number of occasions whilst I lived in Madrid and was always taken aback by how easy he made everything look. I want to delve deeper into what he brings to the Arsenal squad that just isn’t clicking at the moment which has opened the door for these silly complaints from supporters and pundits alike.

Clinical Forwards – Midfield Shooters – Runners 

Ă–zil is lacking three types of players that would benefit from his superb passing and eye for space. The first type is a clinical striker. Giroud, for all his work-rate, combination and hold-up play, is not a clinical striker. He currently sits second from bottom in conversion rate of the top EPL clubs strikers, with a staggeringly low 12.5%, only Soldado is worse; here. Let that sink in. If you go back and watch past matches you will see a multitude of Ă–zil’s passes that have made their way to Giroud in scoring positions only for him to squander those opportunities or not read the play properly and not receive the ball at all. Theo Walcott was a bit better at 15.2%. Bendtner was the best in his limited appearances with a percentage of 25%. The signing of a premier finisher would help Ă–zil and by default, the club.

The second type of player that Arsenal lack at times are midfielders who actually shoot the ball. For all the creativity in the team, the Gunners still want to walk the ball into goal at times. It was refreshing to see earlier in the season Ramsey and in recent weeks Jack then Santi make this less of an issue, but overall it is a problem more often than not. How many times have you sat and watched a match and yelled – “SHOOT!!!”?  Özil himself is guilty of this at times, but coupled with others that do the same, it can lead to long periods of frustration as we have witnessed. A bit more aggressive approach could make all the difference.

The third type of player is a pacey runner that can get behind defences. Arsenal have the poster boy for this type of player, Theo. Unfortunately he’s not been on the field with Ă–zil enough to see that combination thrive as it will in the future. Fortunately with the emergence of Gnabry and the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain, we may yet get to see that type of combination this year. Ă–zil is at his best moving the defence with his quick touches and subtle runs, then unleashing a killer pass for a runner that leaves him clear on goal, there was evidence of that in the match versus Sunderland where he put Theo through several times but the finishing simply wasn’t there. Once this relationship starts to develop, it’ll bring out the best in all parties involved.

Chess –Adapting to a New League – New Teammates 

One of the things I see that brings a smile to my face is how clever the player is. He can move a defence with a deft touch, a slight turn, or a quick pass. The problem is that his new league is not necessarily faster than La Liga, but certainly more physical, and he’s still adjusting to that. He plays chess out on the pitch and his teammates are not quite in tune with him as of yet which leads to misplaced passes, runs that never come, etc. Everything seems to be one step off at the minute, but when it clicks it will be deadly and precise.

In matches where some deem he’s not made a dent, they don’t pay attention to the quick passes that create space for others to make a play. They ignore the runs he makes that pull a couple of defenders with him or the slight turn that makes a defender hesitate and leaves a teammate free to go clear on goal. Those plays don’t show up in the stats and hardly anyone talks about them which is a shame, but if they paid closer attention, one can better appreciate how he can subtly affect the match without having a direct impact.

Mesut also commented the other day on how he was impressed with Rosicky and how he enjoyed playing alongside him. This isn’t a surprise because in many ways, they play very similarly. One thing that strikes me is the tempo at which TR7 plays – always driving forward. This is the same tempo Ă–zil had at Madrid and Germany. I’ve yet to see MĂ– go full-out at that speed with Arsenal. I don’t know if that’s due to him wanting to play at the pace of his teammates, if he’s trying to play more within himself or if it’s just a matter of acclimation or system. If Arsenal can play more up-tempo I think you could see the best of Mesut sooner rather than later, and the best of the team as we witnessed in the second half Saturday versus Fulham. Ă–zil and the team as a whole suffer at a lower pace.

Fear

One thing you can’t measure with any stats is the fear he instills in the opposition. The opposition know they must watch him closely, they know of his quality and likely game-plan for it. You only have to look at what Mourinho said about the player prior to the league meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea in December: “I think I know how to try to stop him to be in the game 90 minutes, with 90 minutes of direct influence. But it’s impossible to stop him for 90 minutes, because these kind of players they will have always a moment or a couple of moments where you cannot stop them and they end up showing why they are so good. To stop him completely, I don’t believe we can.”

That kind of respect and necessity for planning can’t be measured and that’s what a talent like Ă–zil brings to the table. The fear factor that can lift a whole squad as it has since his arrival.

Conclusion

At the end of the day there are some things that are clear. The player isn’t playing at 100% yet but that’s due to several factors as I’ve mentioned. Some can be easily tweaked and better results can be had right away. Others will take a signing or two to fix and we’ll see that in the future. But one thing is clear above all else, if you are one of those complaining about Ă–zil or making a statement that he hasn’t been worth the money – You don’t know Ă–zil…and likely you don’t know football as it’s meant to be played.

The best is yet to come from both player and club. It’ll be fun when things click, don’t blink – you might just miss it. Up the Arsenal!

There has been much said in the British media about a possible raid on Real Madrid by our beloved club.

What is reality? What is media garbage? Where are these links coming from? Let’s look at the four players linked and the reality of the situation.

Casillas – This is the most far-fetched rumour. The likelihood that Lopez keeps Casillas out of the GK duties much longer is small. The only way he would move anywhere is if Ancelotti where to tell him, flat-out, he’s #2 and had no chance, unless injury played a part, to regain his spot. Even then, I see it as an unlikely scenario this late in the window. Let’s say it where to happen, that scenario would see one of the top 3 GK’s in the world(if not the best when on form) on the market and would incite a bidding war Arsenal are unlikely to win. He would be valued above 30m€ in any case. RM is under no obligation to sell with his contract running through 2017.

Benzema – This is the second of unlikely scenarios. Despite being booed by supporters at the Bernabeu, one has to understand that under dire circumstances the likes of Ronaldo, Iker, Ozil, and many others have been booed at one time or another by a very fickle audience. So this has no bearing on his situation, as he’s been cheered many more times than booed. That said, he is also the special project of president Perez and now assistant coach Zidane, without even mentioning the fact that Madrid are his boyhood favorites. There is little chance he leaves, with Madrid having sold Higuain to a view of depending on Benzema, Jese and Morata to fill the position until next year when RM look to add a world-class striker; widely rumoured to be Falcao. Add to this the news that youth team product Alvaro Morata is likely to leave for Espanyol on loan and chances that Benzema is leaving have shrunk even more from the minuscule possibility it was before. Under an increasingly long shot scenario that the striker is sold, he would be valued above 40m€. His agent has also come out recently and proclaimed to be working with the club for an extension.

Ozil – Whilst I also find this move unlikely to occur, it is definitely more possible than the first two. Ozil is very finicky and likes to play in the hole, behind the striker and is unhappy on the wings or being substituted as evidenced last night. Yesterday Ozil was subbed, he shook Ancelotti’s hand, went to the changing room to shower, changed and sat with teammates until the final whistle. Instead of going to the changing room once more, he elected to go straight to the team bus foregoing the mix-zone and speaking with the media. He later tweeted, “6 points in two matches, That is what’s most important.” Earlier it was rumoured that Ozil’s agent, being in the process of working with RM over an extension created rumours of false interest from United and this supposedly angered Madrid. This is what is said to have made the Spanish giants open to a sale. His value would be above 45m€. Madrid have a wealth of midfield depth, so unless a huge offer came in, they’re likely to move a lesser valued member of the squad on.

di Maria – Out of the four players, this is the only name that has been mentioned since the beginning of the summer as a departing player as well as the only player whose initial story was reported from Spain, not Britain. I believe this to be the only clear-cut option of the four. di Maria is a good player, but with the pending arrival of Bale, is seen as surplus as there are many players in Madrid that can play a variety of positions. He has started both matches thus far, but his latest match last night is widely reported to be his last for the club. There has been reported interest from PSG, Galatasaray and other clubs. Most seem to think Arsenal has put in a bid widely reported as “favorable” to Madrid. Only time will tell. His value is at a little over 30m€.

Transfer windows are full of wild speculation and misinformation but most of all, agendas. Why would the British press continuously link Arsenal to names that have very small chances of moving? Ask yourself why AFC losing to Villa is seen as a club in crisis, but City losing to Cardiff is seen as a top effort by a small club? The agenda is clear and has been for some time, so take everything you read with a grain of salt.

To recap, I believe the only name that is possible is di Maria. Ozil may be a possibility but Arsenal would have to nearly triple their transfer record fee to secure that signature. Casillas and Benzema I see as nonsense at this time.

Whoever it is, I expect AFC to sign some players after securing CL group stage football tonight! UTA, COYG!