Arsenal have one truly world class player. Mesut Ozil. Santi Cazorla is the closest to him in terms of technically ability, but barely gets a look in for the Spanish side. The rest, are performing in what is considered a way which is better than the sum of its parts, which is why they're still in 3 competitions. They are good, sometimes very good, but they're not world class.
Other teams around them, are demonstrably better, but have failed in their consistency in the league, and thus find themselves having spent the majority of the season looking up at Arsene Wenger's squad. Teams which, asides from Ozil, would not let any of the Arsenal squad players displace any of their own. No amount of personal bias can overcome that fact. No-one would get into Man City's team, or Chelsea, and most would struggle for Liverpool.
While this is irksome for a supporter, this is not the imbalance I am referring to. Ozil is rumoured to be on close to £200,000 a week. The next highest earner, Theo Walcott, is closer to £120,000. That's nearly double the wages. Players such as the aforementioned Cazorla, and Rosicky, Arteta, etc, do not come close to that. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that Arsenal's star player earns 3x or 4x, maybe even 5x the amount of other first team players. It would be interesting to know what Sanogo earned on Wednesday night, besides my respect.
Ozil would be the player who made 0 blocks, and 0 tackles according to statistics published, in the game against Bayer Munich, (not to mention 0 long passes completed), and only 3 touches in his own half in the League game against Liverpool. 10 men. Nearly 80% possession (up to 88% in the second half) against his team, and no tackles. Double, triple, quadruple the wages. Unacceptable. 20 short passes completed. Unacceptable.
The disparity there is clear. The team have a right to feel aggrieved. Arsenal worked hard, really hard, with 10 men, to grind out until the last few minutes, what would've been a creditable 0-1 defeat. Had Ozil's penalty gone in, the game could've been very different. Pressing would have not been as needed, and as such it's entirely possible there would've been no red card as Szczesny would not have been isolated. But what could've been, matters not. I say 10 men, but at times it felt like 9. However, Wenger is tied by his purchase. The option to replace Ozil instead of Cazorla in the game was there, but then how does that reflect on the manager? £42million is quite some amount of albatross.
Michael Ballack passed comment in the after-game analysis that, maybe Ozil did not have the acceptance of his team-mates. Given the last few months performances, and the disparities between effort and reward, if this is correct, I cannot say I blame them one iota.
So is there a way out of this hole which, in buying a superstar, Arsene Wenger has made for himself? I can see only two options. Buy at least one more world class player, on a similar payscale, and up the wages of the rest of the team, or sell Ozil in the close season. Parity has to be restored. Even if Arsenal win a trophy this year, discontent will still ruminate while there is a perception of someone being paid far more than what appears to be his contributing value to the team.
Or, of course, Ozil could pull his finger out, and start putting his neck on the line for the team who pays his wages. Prove his worth, demonstrate why he's good value for the salary paid to him, which will doubtless be used to justify yet another hike up in entry fee prices for the supporters who already pay the highest prices in the league. If that then means, to restore parity, Wenger has to buy big again in the summer, I can live with it. That would be another forward step. Ozil was bought to push the club onward into the elite again, and if his recent performances provoke a positive response, then maybe, just maybe, the last few months will have been worth it.