Mesut Ozil struggled to impress everyone in his first 18 months at the club, but 2015 could be the year that the German really explodes onto the scene in Arsenal colours.
Nobody who knows football well can question Ozil’s overall quality as a player. His performances for Germany and Real Madrid saw many fans rightly label him as one of the best number 10’s in the world.
But Ozil has, for quite some time, failed to live up to his £42 million billing while others have stepped up in his place. Alexis Sanchez has been the superstar signing Arsenal fans had hoped Ozil would be, scoring 18 goals already this season. While the Chilean’s stock has soared week on week, the German’s has faded into the background while his rehabilitation from injury continued.
But on Sunday Ozil was the star. He scored, with a very clinical finish not often associated with the playmaker and also provided a world class assist for Oliver Giroud, much more familiar ground. Sunday’s game against Aston Villa gave Arsenal fans a chance to get excited again about Ozil being an Arsenal player. He is truly, top class.
Perhaps even more promising and appealing to Arsenal fans was the way Ozil and Santi Cazorla complimented each other. Previously, Cazorla has been shuffled around to accommodate the expensive German – pushed out wide to allow the £42m man free reign.
Not on Sunday, though. It was roles reversed and Arsenal ran riot, even without the season’s shining light; Sanchez. Both scored, both assisted for a team-mate – Cazorla with two – and both were the most effective in attack – topping Opta’s charts for touches, successful passes and chances created, among many others. Ozil, so often criticised for a perceived lackadaisical demeanour, even had more sprints than any other player (72) – and was only second to Cazorla in ground covered by Arsenal players (11.18km).
In typical fashion, Wenger was full of praise for Ozil after the game but with an added word of warning, telling reporters: “He still lacks a competitive edge and sharpness but the quality of his game was exceptional.”
It seems Ozil’s time on the sidelines might have done him good. The German looks stronger and more confident on the pitch, ready to show why he is worth every penny of the £42.5million Arsenal paid for him in 2013.
In association with Goal.com