I was lucky enough to get tickets to the midweek Leicester fixture on Tuesday night. Another win and another three points, in what was an inconsistent performance by the Gunners, but also a performance that told a few tales.
Looking down from the Clock End, we were treated to a solid first half, a little cagey out of the blocks but soon into our stride. With Alexis not firing on all his Chilean cylinders, and Santi playing in behind the roaming front 3, it was Özil’s turn to start pulling the strings.
After a stunning start to his arsenal career in 2013, Özil took a fair bit of criticism over the summer months despite playing well enough to be on the winning side in two trophies; lifting the FA Cup and some other tin pot that looks like it came out of a cracker.
Personally, I thought he had a good world cup, after all the Germans did well to win it with some emphatic displays. I also thought Özil was excellent in his first season at Arsenal, except a few games here and there.
The few times I’ve been lucky enough to see him play this season, he’s been brilliant to watch, even early season in the game against Galatasary; his understanding of the game is exceptional, and how he pulls team about the pitch is a trait of his that is often unappreciated by pundits and some fans.
The Alexis method of get the ball and run at them isn’t the only way to play football.
As we all know, Özil has been injured for a large part of this season, but since returning like some sort of hibernating super hero, our bug-eyes wonder is back, stacked up and looking like he’s on the road to being his good ol’ self again. The game against Leicester was demonstrative of that.
As whole the game was kind of strange: a cracking first half that took a while to get going, followed by what could best be described as a disjointed team performance in the second.
As a team, it took us a while to get going, and in those initial moments of the game play was cautious, but one incredible ball into Walcott from the right on about 10 minutes, and the Arsenal started to up the tempo.
Özil was creator on the night with two fine assists; one from a wonderfully looping corner to near post, and the other from a rasping 25yrd blast from outside of the box that was parried onto Walcott’s swinging hoof.
Despite that “lazy” attitude he has unfortunately become tagged with in the UK, MÖ11 was seen dropping deep to pick up the ball, helping to defend around his own 18 yard box and even closed down Leicester Citys defence brilliantly in the run up to the first goal.
He was into the game, working hard to create opportunities from his own half up to a tightly packed, albeit clunky Leicester defence, and always keen to receive the ball and instigate the next move.
As I watched the game progress, I noticed him getting more animated than any other team mate, encouraging movement and progression up the pitch, calling for support from his teammates, particularly towards the end of the first period as Arsenal were in the ascendency.
Özil was taking charge of the Arsenal’s forward movement, first up for all the corners and the few free kicks we managed to win outside the opponents area. It was just unfortunate that he was the only one who really looked in the mood to create, especially at the game matured.
Towards the end of the first half, there was a moment down the left side, as Ozil received the ball from Sanchez, and managed to hold off 4 Leicester players, for some time, while looking for a pass.
There was no run down the line for him, nor any movement inside or behind, and the ball was eventually seen out of play, as his team mates looked on.
The reaction from the German spoke volumes about our performance over all.
His frustration grew into the second half, culminating in a another episode level with the left corner Arsenal’s 18 yard area; after tracking back to make a tackle, he was unfairly (in my and that half of the stadiums opinion) penalised for being stronger than his opponent. The Leicester player fell pathetically, as Özil won the ball. His reaction was to belt the ball into the hording in annoyance.
Now the referee made quite a few dubious decisions that game, but that was one of the most contentious.
And that spoke volumes about Özil’s involvment during the Tuesday night game.
He was big part in the whole 90 mins and played some brilliant football. He was the creativity behind our attack for many parts of the game and as we know, created the two goals and several good chances.
It was very apparent, that without the support around him, without the like of Alexis, Walcott or Santi making those supporting runs, dragging players about and allowing Özil those split seconds he need – he had no outlet to work his magic.
The way the team play is critical, as one man cannot do it all alone.
Most importantly – Mesut Özil is back on the field and he looks hungry for his football. He look rejuvenated, strong and has that bite back to his game, like when he was at Madrid.
As we know from our last two matches, the around form has wavered slightly. Santi has gone off the boil a little, Alexis hasn’t been at the races for a few games now and the Welsh Jesus, is unfortunately having one of those season all things considered.
But we’ve got Mesut Özil. Oh yes.