Arsenal have been in very good form since their defeat on New Year’s Day and looked to continue that against Aston Villa on Sunday. The Gunners did just that slaughtering the hapless and goalless Villa with a 5-0 win. Arsenal are one of the in form teams in the Premier League winning their last five games and this was one of their best performances of the season. While it is just Aston Villa and that must be kept in mind, the ruthlessness that Wenger’s team showed is encouraging and the amount of good performances will make everyone associated with Arsenal extremely happy.
While nearly every player in an Arsenal shirt was outstanding against Villa, the standout player was their record signing, Mesut Ozil. The World Cup winner showed his quality against, and while he may not have dominated the entire match, he killed Villa with his moments of world class quality.
The German obviously got his goal and his assist, but he did more than just that. The record signing was very good with the ball, as you would expect from Mesut Ozil, completing 46 out of his 52 passes (88%). The 25 year old completed five out of his eight take ons including one inside the box where he destroyed Jores Okore. He created two chances one with his assist and another where he teed up Aaron Ramsey. Ozil scored with his only shot of the game putting a precise finish right into the bottom corner.
Most Arsenal fans, myself included, have always been hugely opposed to Mesut Ozil starting as a wide man instead of at number 10. Still, Ozil started wide left in this match, but he put in one of his best performances of the season. Mesut also started wide left in his come back last week against Brighton, but he played the position differently than how he played at Brighton and differently to how he has played the position in the past. You expect the German and Santi Cazorla to interchange a lot during the match, but the two didn’t do so as much as you would expect.
Even when played wide, Mesut Ozil is never going to be your classic winger that stays on the touchline all game and you wouldn’t want him to be. The German is always going to float around the pitch, and he did that against Villa, but he didn’t do it as much as he has in the past. His most important touch of the game came in the middle of the pitch almost on the centre circle, but he did seem to stick to the left side a bit more than usual. This is easily the best performance he has put in for Arsenal when he has been deployed wide left. He seemed more comfortable playing there and it even benefited him at times. There is a good chance he is not in a position to make the lung bursting run that he made down the left for his goal. I would still prefer to play Ozil as a number 10 without a doubt, but the German looked like a genuine option to play wide and that is hugely encouraging considering all the options Arsenal have centrally.
The flashpoint in the match was the truly world class moment from Mesut Ozil in the eighth minute to set up Olivier Giroud for the opening goal. Everyone knows how talented the German is and he showed every bit of that talent with that beautiful touch to put Giroud through. Francis Coquelin was nearly caught in possession and he was forced to knock a short pass back to Per Mertesacker who cleared the ball to the halfway line. For whatever reason, Villa attempted to play a high line, so Jores Okore was squeezing up nearly on the halfway line. Ciaran Clark was slower to squeeze up playing Olivier Giroud onside. Mesut Ozil was sitting on the halfway line and saw Giroud could be out through. The German played an exquisite back heel for Giroud to score the opening goal and give Arsenal the early lead they craved.
Mesut Ozil has taken a lot of stick from all kinds of people since his move to Arsenal. Some of the criticism has been deserved, but much of it has been very over the top and at times totally ludicrous. After beefing up during his long term injury, Ozil will hope that he can really kick off his Arsenal career and play at the world class level we know he can play at week in week out.