Is Arsenal's World Cup Winner the best number 10 in the Premier League?
Mesut Ozil has finally started lighting up the Premier League with his A-game. Although the German playmaker has been accused in the last few seasons of not performing to the standards expected of a World Cup winner, 2015 has certainly changed that around. Even former Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry, said in a recent interview: “He’s a world champion but he wasn’t doing it week in, week out and now he is.”
A record-breaking run of seven assists in consecutive games, supplemented with two goals, makes this his most successful season in an Arsenal shirt. He averages one assist every 2.71 matches for Arsenal, which has resulted in him supplying two more assists (10) than Juan Mata, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Philippe Coutinho combined (8) for the current campaign.
What is the secret behind his success?
A long term criticism of his game is that he is at times lazy or uncommitted: but recent performances have put those criticisms firmly to rest. In the recent North London Derby at Spurs he actually covered more ground than any other Arsenal player, racking up an impressive 10.5 km coverage.
What are his strengths? The German ‘Assist Machine’ passes the ball early and with clinical precision, he is able to unlock any door set up by a tight defence. He rarely passes backwards, always looking for a forward attacking option and the assist stat shows he is picking all the right passes. In addition, he has an appreciation of space, a dynamite first touch, and is deadly efficiently in attacking areas.
Overall, in compared to past seasons, it is his consistency that has truly marvelled. This new found form for the German World Cup winning midfielder has benefitted the Gunners no end. A genuine title challenge now seems to be a realistic goal this season, plus his performances in Europe mean that he has given his side a chance of salvaging their campaign for the Champions League.
Mesut Ozil vs Dinamo Zagreb
Arsenal were in dire need of something special versus Zagreb last week. They needed to win by at least three goals, and were also relying on Bayern Munich beating Olympiacos. As it happened, both came to pass, and it was the German playmaker who rose to the occasion.
Ozil opened the scoring with an opening diving header, followed not long after by a goal from that other Wenger’s other star, Alexis Sanchez. Wenger was more than impressed, saying post game : “I think Mesut Ozil had an outstanding first half. He has got the taste for scoring now. I have never seen Ozil in the box so many times as in the last five or six games.”
Can he outclass Vardy for Player of the Year?
Ozil’s performances and potential silverware have now put him in line with a possibility to win PFA Player of the Year. Although he is currently fifth favourite at the bookies (behind his other star colleague, Alex Sanchez), betting expert Michael Butlin of Bookmakers has gone ahead and tipped him to win the award.
Jamie Vardy is truly going to be the man to beat though. The incredible story of rising up from non-league, combined with a record breaking run of scoring in 11 consecutive games, means it will take something special for Ozil to pass him in the rest of the reason. However, with his new found consistency, this outcome is looking ever-more likely.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Stuart MacFarlane