After an embarrassing 3-2 defeat to Olympiacos, lots of people were doubting Arsenal going into their game against Manchester United. Then the Gunners annihilated Louis Van Gaal’s side. They dismembered Manchester United within the first 20 minutes, and it was absolutely incredible to watch. They were on fire and played scintillating football putting in their most impressive performance of the season.
There were plenty of standout players in that Arsenal side. Theo Walcott put in his best center forward performance in an Arsenal shirt and Alexis Sanchez was phenomenal. There was one player though that stood out after tacking a lot of criticism over the last two years. That would be Mesut Ozil. The German was on another level and cut through Manchester United’s midfield like a hot knife through butter.
The German did well at keeping the ball, as he tends to do, completing 82% of his passes. He also managed to complete 88% of his passes in the final third. He also created two chances, one of those being converted into the opening goal. He also completed two of his three attempted take ons, made four ball recoveries, and even scored a goal.
Ozil started the game as the number 10, as he should. One of the keys to Arsenal’s blitzing of United was their own energy and intensity, but they were also able to take advantage of United’s tactical flaws. United attempted to press Arsenal’s midfield two of Cazorla and Coquelin with Rooney, Schweinsteiger, and Carrick. That trio, specifically Schweinstager, struggled mightily and, because the defense did not step up to close the space, that left a lot of space for players, to work in. Ozil took advantage of that space and when Arsenal were able to break the press they were able to play some breath taking, fluid football.
As he typically does, the German floated all around the final third making an impact everywhere. For the first goal, he popped up on the right to launch the initial attack. He eventually got the ball back on that right hand sde, played a brilliant one two with Ramsey and crossed in for Alexis to score. A minute later, he received the ball form an Alexis back heel on the left side. He played the ball down the channel to Walcott and received the ball back to slot home for 2-0. In the second half, Arsenal played more conservatively and switched to a 4-3-3 shifting Ozil out to the right. The whole team was subdued in the second half, but the German’s first half display more than made up for that.
Arsenal have outplayed Manchester United before, but lost because they haven’t been able to get the first goal. This time they did get the first goal and Mesut Ozil’s fingerprints were all over it.
Ozil picked the ball up just past midfield played a ball down the wing to Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard turned on the jets to reach the ball, but his cross in was blocked by Ashley Young. Daley Blind cleared poorly with Coquelin winning the ball back to Ozil. The German played a beautiful one two with Aaron Ramsey and got the ball on the byline. He cut the ball back brilliantly to to Alexis Sanchez to score with a brilliant back heel finish.
People have been begging Mesut Ozil to perform in big games since he got to England. Despite his brilliance against Liverpool last season and in the FA Cup final, Ozil finally seemed to convince some of his critiques that he is in fact the real deal.