September 2nd 2013, Mesut Ozil signs for Arsenal football club for a record fee of £42.4m. That day is treated as a watershed moment for Arsenal, as it announced their return to a team competing for the title. This was regarded as the first time they’d bought a ready made world class player for a long time.
Ozil started his Arsenal career like a house on fire, with five goals and eight assists in his first 18 appearances. After that start, Ozil struggled with the lack of a winter break and his performances started to drop. This culminated in poor performances at home to Bayern Munich, away to Liverpool, and then a hamstring injury away to Bayern.
After Ozil returned from his hamstring injury, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger talked up his chances of being the player of the year for 2014-2015 saying, “he is a fantastic player and I would put him on the list to be player of the season next season.” That did not happen as Ozil suffered a knee injury forcing him to miss three months. But, like Wenger’s prediction about going a season unbeaten, he may have just been one season too early.
Ozil finished last season in fantastic form and has been even better to start this campaign. He recorded his seventh assist of the season against Everton, giving him more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. He also leads the Premier League in key passes played per 90 minutes.
Along with that, prior to the weekends action, only Hector Bellerin and Henrikh Mkhatarian had created more clear cut chances in Europe’s top five leagues than the German.
When you compare him with some of the Premier League’s top number 10s, Ozil looks very strong. The chances created and pass completion percentage statistics are the most important in Ozil’s game and the game of a modern day number 10. As much as people want number 10s to pop up with more goals, the primary job is for them to create chances for others and keep the play flowing. They also can’t give the ball away, so they need to complete a high percentage of their passes. He has the most chances created per 90 minutes, second most assists per 90 minutes, most total assists, and the second highest pass completion percentage.
Another criticism of Ozil has been that he doesn’t perform in big games. Over the last 10 months, he’s made big improvements in that department. Since he came back from his knee surgery, he has put in big performances against Liverpool, Manchester United twice, Bayern Munich, the North London Derby, the FA Cup semi final, and the FA Cup final. Just in the last month he’s scored two goals and assisted another against Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
Mesut Ozil has taken an abnormal amount of criticism since he got to England. Some of it has been warranted, some of it…. not so much. Whether it’s his introverted nature, languid style of play, or price tag something about him has made him a magnet for criticism. But over the last 10 months, Arsenal’s record signing has let his play do the talking, and it’s said some big things. Since he came back from his injury in late January, he has been performing like the world class player he was at Real Madrid. After his assist at the weekend, he has the best assist per game rate in Premier League history (minimum 20 assists) with an assist every 2.71 games. For all the talk about Ozil since his move to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger put it best in his post match Everton press conference, “Rather than talking about him (Ozil) I would rather watch him again.”