Even though he became an Arsenal player on Aug. 31st, it wouldn’t be until today, Sept. 22, that Mesut Ozil got the chance to make his home debut for the ‘Gunners’ in a Premier League game against Stoke City. Well, the wait was well worth it as Ozil turned in a world class performance as he assisted on all three of Arsenal’s goals in a 3-1 Arsenal win. This win sends them to the top of the league standings with 12 points.
When Arsenal bought Ozil from Real Madrid in a deal worth £42.5 million, many inexplicably questioned if Arsenal really needed Ozil, given that adding another striker and potentially a defensive midfielder/central defender were also pressing priorities. Well, so far through his first three games, Ozil has proven that a quality world class playmaker like him is always a welcomed addition. His performance against Stoke showed why.
Against Stoke, Ozil’s play allowed for Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey to be able to interchange, in terms of who dropped back to help Mathieu Flamini give the defense cover when Stoke was in possession, while the other one stayed higher up in attack. It also helped give Serge Gnabry a chance to settle into the game, as he was a late starter due to Theo Walcott falling ill. Ozil’s presence took on another form today, as all three of his assists came courtesy of him taking set pieces.
The first came early on when his free kick was not properly handled by Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, with Ramsey close by to pounce on it. It was Ozil’s well hit corner, which Per Mertesacker headed into goal to give Aresnal a 2-1 lead before the half. Ozil’s looping pass, which Bacary Sagna connected with, gave Arsenal a comfortable 3-1 lead.
Aside from his assists and the other scoring opportunities that Ozil has created so far, his impact has also helped make the team play better in general. In the three games with Ozil, Arsenal is a team that is playing with a certain amount of confidence and an extra spring in their step. This is clearly seen in the play of Jack Wilshere, who no longer plays with the burden of feeling that he must do everything on the creative front for Arsenal. As a result, he now plays with a freedom that has helped his play improve.
Whether or not the good times are a temporary good run of form or something that will be sustained long term is something time will tell. That said, it is clear that Mesut Ozil is showing why it made a lot of sense to bring him in, and with three more assists today, he had a sublime home debut to help send Arsenal to the top of the table.