92% Pass Completion, Never Dispossed: Ozil Was The Star Of The North London Derby


Perhaps not the the obvious choice, but at least for me, watching the game closely, and one player in particular, it is Arsenal’s number ten that stood out; albeit in another stuttering and ultimately disappointing result for Arsenal.

He was the pick of the bunch in the last Premier League outing playing in his favoured number ten role, and he produced a successive stand out performance showing the type of class one would expect from a player of Mezut Ozil’s ability. Although, he was again shifted out wide to accommodate the disastrous formation that Wenger seems oddly attached to, dispute achieving better results when reverting back to the tried and tested, and much more natural, 2 3 1. It is tiring having to repeat the same things when discussing Arsenal, but the manager seems intent on following a doomed path. If Ozil is playing, the formation has to suit him, it has to have two sitting midfielders, with him in the hole, and it has to have pacy wingers. It was incredibly frustrating to witness our best player out of position again, and in a North London derby, and it can only be a testament to Ozil that the change in formation did not set him two steps back again. He looks to have built on his performance against Aston Villa, and it is showing.

He’s often criticised for hiding in the big games, and it doesn’t get much bigger than a North London derby; no matter how much our rivals have declined, which makes the ‘hard fought draw’ all the more gloomy. But Ozil didn’t hide for a minute in a mostly bogged Arsenal display. He always looked to move forward, every touch he makes is positive, it’s always on the front foot, whether to push it deftly past a player or simply arranging his body in a way that allows him to look up and dictate play. Stats can’t show these things. For someone that is hounded for a negative attitude, his attitude on the ball is undoubtedly positive and never without thought. Even in the little flicks and lay offs you can see the ease with which he moves about the game and carries attacks forward. At times, he was playing at a walking pace, yet every decision he made was perfect, every pass perfectly weighted. It’s a pity nobody other than Chamberlain showed the desire to break the back line and capitalise on the control Ozil had over the game. Injuries forced him back into the middle where he demonstrated further the simple beauty he brings to the game; and it’s where he’ll stay for a while following the destruction of our entire first choice midfield. Arsenal really aren’t’ going to get anywhere with weekly injuries or without a fresh defensive midfield option; it’s going to be another frustrating season of glaring managerial ignorance.

From little positives to take out of a game we really should have buried, it’s comforting to see Ozil coming out of his shell, left wing, or middle. On the surface, the goal at Aston villa looks to have restored energy and faith back into his game, and now he can start to play his football. He is Arsenal’s orchestrator. The team has to prioritise him; he’s the best in his position and it’d be an offense to waste that privilege.

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