Comparing Arsenal & Man City's Premier League title run-insMar 24 | 2 min read
Community Shield: Mikel Arteta has 'wiped the slate clean' - so will Mesut Ozil revive his Arsenal career and bow out with the farewell his talent deserves?
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"Sometimes one percent chance is enough."
So read a tweet sent by Arsenal exile Mesut Ozil on the eve of the new Premier League season.
It was in reference to a surprise birthday message he had penned for a fan, but it could have easily described his prospects at the Emirates.
After months in the cold, the divisive German has been offered an olive branch by manager Mikel Arteta ahead of Saturday's Community Shield clash with Liverpool.
The 31-year-old has not made a single appearance for the club in any competition since March.
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Since the Premier League's restart in June, Arteta stubbornly resisted calls to reinstate the £350,000-a-week midfielder as Arsenal recorded their worst finish since 1995.
If one image perfectly summed up the absurdity of Ozil's situation at Arsenal it was him lounging, feet up, underneath an umbrella in the stands at St Mary's as he watched the Gunners grind out a 2-0 victory.
“Pure football reasons,” said Arteta when asked to explain Ozil's ongoing omission before the FA Cup semi-final win over Man City. “My only ambition is the best squad and the best players who give us the best opportunity to win the game.”
When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice against Chelsea to guide the Gunners to their 14th FA Cup triumph, Ozil was 2,300 miles in Turkey.
It was a case of the king is dead, long live the king.
Or so it seemed.
Fast forward to the eve of the new Premier League season and Ozil has been offered a glimmer of hope that he can have one last dance before his contract expires next summer.
“I have been really clear that everybody starts from zero,” Arteta said ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Premier League champions Liverpool - live and exclusive on BT Sport from 4pm.
“All the time in football, what you did two weeks ago or two years ago doesn’t matter. It is what you are able to contribute to the team now so everybody is going to have the same opportunities.
“They have to show with their performance and attitude that they are better than their team-mates or they are somehow contributing to what we want to achieve this season.”
There are other signs that Ozil may be afforded a second chance, most notably the former Real Madrid Galactico having been included in the club's new kit marketing.
While his decision not to take a pay cut amid sweeping redundancies at the club left a sour note, the German has reiterated his desire to play for the club over and over again.
“My position is clear,” Ozil said in an interview with The Athletic. “I’m here through to the last day of our agreement and I’ll give everything I have for this club.
“I’ll decide when I go, not other people.
“I didn’t sign for two or three years, I signed for four and that should be respected by everyone.
“Things have obviously been difficult but I love Arsenal, I love to work there, I love the people in the club — the real people, those I’ve been with for a long time — and I love London, it’s my home.
“Whatever happened in the last two seasons, I’m happy and very strong mentally. I never give up on anything. I want to help my team and I’ll fight for it. If I’m fit, I know what I can do on the pitch.”
What he can do on the pitch has never been in doubt, and it's borne out in his numbers.
Since his Premier League debut in 2013, he ranks fourth overall for assists provided, while only Christian Eriksen has created more chances.
Despite making just 18 appearances in the league last season, he created more chances than Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang. Only Pepe, who made 31 appearances in his debut season, created more.
It wouldn't be the first time Ozil has come back from the brink.
He fell out of favour under previous manager Unai Emery before returning to the side under interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.
In fact, after Arteta's appointment in December, Ozil started all 10 of Arsenal's Premier League games immediately before the outbreak of Covid-19 brought competition to a halt.
The playmaker's route back into Arteta's plans has been made more difficult by the emergence of Bakary Sako and the arrival of Willian - who is expected to be deployed as a number 10.
Nevertheless, Ozil's powers are undiminished.
Few players possess the same eye for an intricate pass and the potential of a consistent partnership with Aubameyang remains a mouth-watering prospect for Arsenal fans.
Having been the scapegoat for so long, if he can reignite his Arsenal career with one last swansong, it will be a comeback worthy of Lazarus.
It's a long shot, but sometimes one per cent chance is enough.