Contemplating Arsenal's Victory Over Brighton: Ozil Set To Fade Away
Arsene Wenger chose to rotate his team for the 4th-round encounter with Brighton & Hove Albion.
The eyebrow-raising starting eleven was a source of consternation for more than a few supporters, not surprisingly, Arsenal had to hang on to advance.
Numerous subplots abounded and many lessons were learned:
The Polish shot-stopper was fragile and lacking self-confidence against the Seagulls.
His blunders verse Southampton, adolescent post-game smoking incident, and subsequent demotion from Arsenal's starting goalkeeper to backup weighed heavy on his mind.
Szczesny was alarmingly unassured coming to claim crosses, slow off his line, and typically poor with his distribution.
He did nothing on Sunday to make the case that he should be restored, but rather further perpetuated the notion that he is now just the Cup keeper.
Szczesny's inconsistency minding the net, lack of respect for the manager and the badge, and general poor decision-making on and off the field indicates that the Pole has taken a step backwards in his development.
All signs point to David Ospina starting at the weekend verse Aston Villa.
Flamini, a loyal servant who clearly loves playing for the Club, must be released at the end of the season.
He has nothing left in the tank, there is no more giddy-up, what was once a bark has become a whimper, and his technical ability and passing range has been exposed time and time again this season.
The Frenchman left Arsenal on his own accord in 2008, but in the early stages of 2015, the situation has changed dramatically, it is now obvious that Wenger must end the relationship once and for all at the conclusion of the current campaign.
Flamini's contract should not be renewed.
In his brief cameo appearance, Francis Coquelin was better than Flamini in every single measureable; reading the game, cutting off passing lanes, winning tackles, transitioning from defense to attack, Coquelin has surpassed Flamini on every level at this stage in the two player's careers.
Throw in the somewhat trite fact that Flamini wears the no. 20 jersey that new signing Gabriel Paulista fancies, and the writing is on the wall, Flamini gets shown the door in May.
Walcott's tidy finish in the 2nd minute of the match provided a welcome dose of optimism, an injection of hope shot into the veins of every single person connected with the Club. After several glaring misses since his return to the first team, watching Theo lash home from a sniff of goal was a joyous occasion, compounded by knowing how hard the player worked in the past year to get back on the pitch.
Walcott is on his way to regaining match-rediness.
There were signs that he is close to overcoming the mental trauma of his serious injury.
On Sunday, Walcott was more willing to engage in physical challenges. He showed glimpses of his trademark lightning-quick explosiveness, evidenced by his goal, and the ability to nick possession off opponents; rediscovering these elements of his game and combining them with his excellent movement off the ball will give opposing defenders many sleepless nights in the weeks to come.
However, Walcott's decision making has not been fully rebooted.
There were several passages of play that could have resulted in goals had he made better decisions.
A system upgrade is still needed for Theo, yet all readings forecast the player operating at full capacity in the games to come.
Walcott is posed to come up big for the Gunners, with the North London Derby, the very fixture he was injured in last season, serving as the prime stage to announce his full comeback.
Wenger would be wrong to leave the Cezch out of the team for upcoming fixtures, Rosicky keeps turning in man-of-the-match performances, and it would be foolish and detrimental to see him rotated out of the squad.
The ground he covered, his successful dribbles, vision to assist, and top-class volleyed goal against Brighton epitomizes just how good the former BVB man still is.
Rosicky has been overlooked for much of the first half of the season, Wenger has put it down to injury and preference, but it's hard to imagine why the Czech hasn't been a bigger part of the manger's plans this season.
When the team is fully fit, Wenger has an embarrassment of riches in midfield, and as previously mentioned here on football.com https://www.football.com/en-gb/ozil-s-form-will-become-a-headache-for-wenger/, the Arsenal manager is about to be incapacitated by a migraine of tremendous potency when drawing up his team sheet.
Rosicky should get Arsene some Advil because he deserves to be in the starting eleven.
Ozil deserves credit for his cool finish on the day, shifting the ball from his right-foot to his left with subtle silkiness, before driving home Arsenal's second.
It was a good finish from the German.
But it was Rosicky that made the goal, who made something out of nothing, embarking on another probing run with the ball at his feet, utilizing his fantastic recognition of time and space, to slot Nemo in on goal.
Ozil didn't do much of anything on the day.
His effort was reminiscent of most every other game he's played in an Arsenal shirt over the past year and a half.
Lacking exuberance, hunger and will, void of desire, there are simply zero signs that would indicate Mesut Ozil is on a path towards regaining the conviction to reestablish himself as one of the best no. 10's in the game.
Scoring against the 19th placed team in the Championship doesn't come close to making-up for all the lackluster performances since his transfer to England.
Fans of Dial Square all still waiting for Ozil to be fully 'regenerated' to the form that earned him a move to Real Madrid and in turn Arsenal.
That rebirth looks more and more unlikely with each passing day.
Arsenal's record signing looks set to fade away from the Emirates...