Analysis of Mesut Özil's man of the match performance against Chelsea
Arsene Wenger labelled Arsenal’s victory over Chelsea one of the Gunners’ finest performances in recent years, and although the hosts went into the clash with Antonio Conte’s Blues in decent form, surely nobody could have predicted what was to come. The hosts blew away a Chelsea side that capitulated on the big occasion at the Emirates Stadium, with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil seeing the Gunners 3-0 up at half-time where they closed out the match.
It was Arsenal’s first win over their West London rivals in the league since 2011, and their biggest win over the Blues since 1997, the latest three points lifting them up to third in the Premier League. It was Mesut Özil however; a man who has often been criticised in the past for not taking charge of the big matches as he should, who was at the heart of Chelsea’s torment.
When Özil is on song alongside teammate Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal can prove a threat to anyone, and they were at their very best here in an electrifying display. Özil looked the maestro in midfield Arsenal fans have been hoping to see on a consistent basis for years, with 90% of overall pass accuracy and two interceptions in the midfield area which showed his awareness.
He helped press Chelsea and force them into giving the ball away, winning 100% of his tackles and capped off a glorious performance after combining with Sanchez to lift the ball over Thibaut Courtois for Arsenal’s third, his only effort on goal and his second strike of the season.
It was the manner in which the goal was crafted which demonstrated that Arsenal can be artists at work when at their best – the masterpiece taking form with Ozil’s crisp, delicate passing and delightful movement. The Germany international left N’Golo Kante for dead to expose Chelsea on the counter, and after a wonderful one-two with Alexis Sanchez he applied the delicate finishing touch, the ball almost moving in slow motion followed by the raucous reply from the watching Emirates faithful. It was the German’s first goal on home turf this calendar year.
Özil didn’t simply isolate himself to sitting in midfield either. He got around the pitch tirelessly, showing an impressive work rate to harry Chelsea’s midfield and relentlessly close the Blues down, whilst showing trickery to complete three dribbles beyond opponents and even run the channels at times, supplying five crosses into the box throughout the match.
The German’s fine individual performance in Arsenal’s slick and stylish team display emphatically answered the critics of Arsene Wenger’s side at home so far this season, the Gunners showing somewhat of a swagger in a magnificent show of passing, midfield power, pace both going forward and getting back, topped off by a touch of magic in the final third to dismantle a shell-shocked Chelsea.
Arsenal glimmered throughout the match from the majestic displays in attack by Özil and Alexis Sanchez, all the way to the work-rate, breakneck speed and desire to get down the flank and join the attack shown by Hector Bellerin. Özil’s influence in midfield however was worthy for him to earn BBC Sport’s pick for Player of the Match.
To a man, Arsenal were outstanding. However, the finishing touches from the big players in the team such as Mesut Özil show him to be pivotal to everything that the Gunners are hoping to accomplish this campaign. It has been slow already this season at times, but this performance will need to be replicated consistently if Arsenal are to do themselves justice.
It was undoubtedly the finest Arsenal performance in recent memory, but they must build on this, and players such as Özil stepping up to the plate regularly will be key if the Gunners are to deliver.
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