We question the motivation behind Mesut Ozil’s outstanding display against Tottenham, discuss Cristiano Ronaldo’s continued struggles and Zlatan’s unbelievable arrogance – all in this week’s Monday Verdict….
OZIL’S MAGNIFICIENCE MORE FOR MAN UTD THAN ARSENAL
Mesut Ozil was simply outstanding in the north London derby win over Tottenham on Saturday but the question has to be asked – just who was that performance for?
To say the German has been poor this season would be a massive understatement so where did a display like that come from and if he really is that good then why can he not turn it on more often?
That’s three questions, so here’s answer.
Sorry Gunners fans but he was not displaying his footballing genius or an ability to close down that he has hidden for the past four years for you, it was almost certainly for Jose Mourinho at Man Utd or Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona.
Ozil’s contract situation is common knowledge to all, along with the admiration that Mourinho has for the gifted playmaker, but just how can a player be so bad one week and so good the next – it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
The 29-year-old was literally everywhere at The Emirates in a high-profile game that Arsenal’s bitter rivals were being heavily backed to win. What better occasion for Ozil to remind everyone that he is still an amazing footballer – when he can be bothered that is.
Ozil’s next contract will more than likely be his last big pay day, unless he fancies a trip to China in his mid-30s, so at some point he had to make people sit up and take notice and an injury-hit Spurs were his perfect fodder.
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It does make you wonder just how Arsenal fans who savoured every minute of their first league win over Tottenham in three years were actually lulled into actually believing Ozil’s Lazarus-type performance.
He probably did enough in one game to be able to take a breather until the festive programme, so watch out Crystal Palace on December 28 you may just find yourselves up against the real Mesut Ozil again.
IS CRISTIANO RONALDO LOSING HIS GOLDEN TOUCH?
Cristiano Ronaldo endured another frustrating evening as Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid shared a rare goalless draw in the first derby at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The match represented the seventh time in eight La Liga games this season that Ronaldo has failed to score as Real’s early season struggles continue.
Ronaldo made headlines in the week when defender Sergio Ramos defended the strength of Real’s squad as his team-mate had appeared to suggest after the Champions League defeat to Tottenham that it had been weakened by the summer departures of Alvaro Morata, Danilo, Fabio Coentrao, Pepe and James Rodriguez.
Manager Zinedine Zidane had played down talk of a rift between his two senior players, and apart from venting his frustration when a Toni Kroos cross went straight out of play, there was no sign of animosity between Ronaldo and his team-mates.
But just how well did Ronaldo play on Saturday night, let’s take a look…
Talk of the former Manchester United star waning has largely centred on whether he has lost a yard of pace. In his only footrace of the evening, Ronaldo was comfortably beaten to the ball by Atletico defender Juanfran when played through in the first half.
Having only scored once this season in LaLiga, it proved to be another frustrating evening in front of goal for the 32-year-old.
He did force two routine saves from Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak from free-kicks, but dragged a second-half effort wide of the target and spurned the best chance of the match late on.
Having hesitated eight yards out, Hernandez Lucas was able to block Ronaldo’s effort when a first-time shot would have taken the defender out of the equation.
A performance that will do little to end talk about Ronaldo’s lack of form – the Ballon D’or winner cut a peripheral figure for much of the contest against a well-drilled Atletico defence.
The fact that both his pace and killer instinct in front of goal let him down will have done little for the Portugal star’s confidence.
ZLATAN BANG OUT OF ORDER FOR SWEDEN TWEET
This probably applies to millions but sometimes, just sometimes you really should think before you tweet, but guess what some people just don’t care that what they may say might cause some offence.
Take Zlatan Ibrahimovic for example. A phenomenal talent who has had a remarkable career, while his comeback from a serious knee injury at 36 years of age has to be thoroughly applauded. But why is he so bloody arrogant?
Not long after his Swedish countrymen booked their place at a first World Cup finals in 12 years with an incredible play-off win over Italy, Zlatan appeared to take some of the glory for himself – despite retiring from international duty after Euro 2016.
He posted the following tweet replacing the S in Sweden for a Z, which immediately sparked rumours that he was looking to come out of retirement for one last swansong in Russia and automatically took some of the gloss off what the Swedish national team had achieved.
We are Zweden pic.twitter.com/rDXzRImev4
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) November 13, 2017
There is absolutely no doubt that he was out of order – you only have to look at what Sweden coach Janne Andersson said when he was asked about a potential return for Zlatan in the aftermath of an history victory. Let’s remember they had just denied Italy a place at a World Cup finals for the first time since 1958!
Andersson said: “We have a team that has [accomplished a triumph] during these qualifications. For crying out loud, talk about the players who did this.”
You really can’t blame him from being angry.
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Of course there is probably no doubt that Sweden will be a better team with Zlatan leading the line – he did score 62 goals in 116 appearances after all – but try telling that to the forward players who replaced him during qualifying, while he was earning a fortune strutting his admittedly brilliant stuff at Old Trafford or recuperating from that nasty injury.
Zlatan has since been quoted that he has no intention of boarding a plan to Moscow – unless he has a media job lined up – but the damage was done but a selfish act that was ill-considered and arrogant beyond belief, but hey that’s Zlatan!
ANOTHER RUDE AWAKENING FOR MOYES
If David Moyes hadn’t done “due diligence” when he took the Sunderland job, it would be interesting to know his thoughts after witnessing those first 90 minutes as West Ham manager.
The Hammers travelled to Watford with the circumstances looking fairly favourable for them to at least secure a positive result; the cliched ‘new manager syndrome’ coupled with Watford’s poor run of form made it an interesting litmus test for the side rooted in the bottom three.
With just two wins all season, Moyes has clearly inherited a squad low on confidence. That was plain to see in the first half as Watford started on the front foot, constantly being allowed to find overlapping runners and wreak havoc down the flanks. When Will Hughes sweetly struck the hosts in front inside 10 minutes, few could begrudge them a lead.
Cheikou Kouyate had two really good chances to draw the visitors level; but when your lucks out, it’s out. If Moyes’ face was grimacing at those misses, goodness knows what his expression was when Richarlison was found in yards of space before being allowed a free run at the full-back before slotting one past Joe Hart.
Chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” could be heard from the away end at one point during the match, and this is a fanbase which appears to be turning very quickly on the men at the top.
While Moyes racked up his 500th game as a Premier League manager, Marco Silva amassed his 251st game as a manager in any game. One must be impressed at how Silva set his side up to take advantage of a side that is looking for a way to a) score goals and b) keep them out.
Silva once again failed to rule out a move to Everton in his post-match comments, but you have to question why he would even consider it. A bigger club yes, but he is putting his stamp upon the Hertfordshire side, and his stock is constantly rising. His counterpart however is struggling to keep his reputation afloat.