Everyone has an opinion on Mesut Ozil. He is the most talked about player in the Premier League, with some believing him to be the embodiment of everything that’s been wrong with Arsenal in recent years and others arguing that without him the Gunners would be in even worse shape.
But regardless of your position on Ozil, the German’s performance in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Leicester City on Monday night was sparkling. It was a reminder of the playmaker’s quality, a reminder of why his signing in the first place five years ago was considered a landmark moment for Arsenal.
Of course, this display came just a few weeks after Ozil was dropped by new Arsenal manager Unai Emery for a game against West Ham. That led to suggestions that the pair had fallen out, with some even questioning whether the German would have a place in the Gunners side going forward.
Those suggestions look a little foolish now, particularly with Ozil handed the captain’s armband for the home clash against Leicester earlier this week. It was with the captaincy that Ozil thrived, not leading by being a vocal, animated figure, because that’s not his style, but leading by example.
Indeed, against Leicester City Arsenal were a team that revolved around Ozil as was always intended. This is what Gunners fans have wanted from the playmaker for years. This is the player he was for Real Madrid all those years ago, and for Germany as they won the World Cup in 2014.
Some of the criticism Ozil has faced over the years has been grossly unfair, but some of it has been justified. For all that there have been moments of brilliance, consistency has been a problem for the 30-year-old. Now, with Arsenal in the midst of a 10-game winning run in all competitions, he might finally have found that.
Ozil has forged an understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in the January transfer window, with Alexandre Lacazette also benefiting from the German playmaker’s impressive run of form of late. Those three are forging quite the trio and could see Arsenal join Manchester City and Liverpool as the most exciting attacking unit in the Premier League this season.
However, with Ozil now playing as a true number 10 again, rather than as a wide playmaker as was frequently the case under Arsene Wenger, that could spell bad news for Aaron Ramsey, who all of a sudden doesn’t seem to have a place at the Emirates Stadium any longer. His contract is up at the end of the season and Ozil’s performance on Monday shows they might be better off without the Welshman.
Arsenal have enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks, now sitting just two points adrift of top spot in the Premier League table. Ozil has been central to that resurgence and perhaps for the first time since he arrived in England, his role in the future of the Gunners is clear. The captain’s armband he now wears represents something.
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