How will Mesut Ozil influence Arsenal's title hopes?
As Arsenal moved joint top of the Premier League last weekend, capitalizing on Manchester City’s draw with Everton, it made the day even sweeter for a special German playmaker. On his 28th birthday, Mesut Ozil capped off the afternoon with a sumptuous volley in the Gunner’s 3-2 win over Swansea.
Ozil has become more at home in North London year on year and is now the catalyst for the Gunners title charge this season. He started the campaign slowly but has kicked into gear, highlighted with a masterclass in their 3-0 win over Chelsea, and now looks to be in the peak of his powers, with Arsene Wenger looking to end his title drought.
Ozil has often been criticized for his style of play, for ‘not working or hard’ or ‘looking disinterested’, but now people seem to appreciate his quality and last season proved it as he finished with 19 assists. His partnerships with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott are blossoming and Arsenal have looked superb in bouncing back from an opening day humbling to Liverpool.
The German was often made a scapegoat, particularly in the media, when Arsenal do badly, but now it’s the case that he is the bright spark when things go wrong for the Gunners. He has taken the role as the creative hub for Arsenal on and is now vital to any hopes Arsenal have of competing for the Premier League title. In what looks to be the most competitive season to date, Arsenal will hope they can stay in the title race for longer than last season where they fell off by March.
Arsenal fans will be the first to tell you how good Mesut Ozil is and the stats back that up. In seven games, Ozil has created 18 chances and won over 76% of take-ons, more than Paul Pogba, Dele Alli and level with Coutinho on chances made. He is most definitely up there with the best numbers 10’s in world football and whilst only showing moments of class in his first two years in England, he has improved his consistency and improved Arsenal’s title hopes also.
Talks over a contract extension have been stalling with wages seeming to be an issue, as well as the future of Arsene Wenger with his deal up next summer. But, along with Sanchez, it is imperative they pen the duo to new contracts and improve the areas around them as they have done this past summer with Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi. Ozil doesn’t come across as a leader but in his quality of play and how he commands the ball during the game, he inspires others around him.
That’s why players like Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin and even Theo Walcott this current campaign, have shown improvement in their game. On the pitch, opposing fans and pundits can’t resist looking over Ozil and diminishing his performances, but in the stats and results, it’s clear to see how important he is to Arsenal and Germany alike.
A perfect moment to sum up Ozil is last season’s clash with Leicester at The Emirates. Arsenal were still very much in the title race and against the 10 men of the leaders, it was 1-1 with a free kick as the last kick of the game. Ozil was entrusted with it after what was, by his standards, not a great display. With their title chances resting on his left foot, he delivered an inch perfect delivery for Danny Welbeck to send North London into ecstasy.
It shows, even if he is having a bad game, he can change a match in a second with a swing of his left boot, a drop of the shoulder or a knock-down for a team-mate. Arsenal can rely on Ozil when they need him as he has shown more recently in big games, like last year against Bayern, Manchester United and City and this year against Chelsea. If Arsenal are to win the Premier League for the first time since 2004, it will involve another stellar season from their German number 11.
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