Misfit Ozil needs a break as he kills Arsenal's positive vibes
The Gunners' record signing goes missing yet again after vital penalty miss
WHAT does £42.5m buy you? The answer, as far as Arsenal fans are concerned, is a lightning rod. For that is the role currently being filled by record signing Mesut Ozil, who finds himself in the cross-hairs once again after the Gunners defeat to Bayern Munich.
Barring a miracle in Munich in three weeks time Arsenal's Champions League run is over, and Ozil is the man being blamed.
Ozil, singled out for some fierce criticism after Arsenal lost to Liverpool, was centre stage once again in the aftermath of the defeat to Bayern Munich. Even his manager, Arsene Wenger, admitted that Ozil's woeful seventh minute penalty miss "killed a little bit the crowd and the positive vibes".
It also deflated Ozil and he contributed little over the next 80 minutes, apparently haunted by the tame chip that was saved by Manuel Neuer. His disappointing effort raised questions about why it was Santi Cazorla rather than the German who was sacrificed when goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was shown a red card after 37 minutes.
Arsenal fans on Twitter and other social media dubbed the German 'Miss it' Ozil, and held him up for ridicule and abuse.
"The questions grow about the expensive buy from Madrid - as does the need to put his situation into perspective," says Phil McNulty of the BBC.
"Those questioning his effort may be interested to know he ran 11.69 kilometres, but the real concern was how he retreated from where the real action was. He was bought to make the defining contributions. He has not made enough." McNulty says the time has come to pull Ozil out of the firing line for a few games so he can rediscover his mojo.
"Many top players have missed penalties in important matches," says Matt Hughes in The Times. "But the greatest respond to such set-backs and prove their quality anew. Ozil shirked that challenge, visibly shrinking in stature before disappearing from view."
He has lost his sheen, adds Hughes. "Ozil had a magnificent chance to cement his status at Arsenal and redeem his reputation as player of substance who has been on the slide, but blew it in spectacular fashion."
It is doubly frustrating, because the German was bought for just this sort of occasion, says Jeremy Wilson in the Daily Telegraph, but he does "not look comfortable with all the responsibility that has been thrust upon him".
There is a growing danger "that being at Arsenal will suck the confidence from Ozil", he warns.