When Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil in the summer of 2013 for a club record £42.4m they were signing one of, if not the best, number 10 in the world. So far, the German has lived up to that billing. He had one of the best creative seasons in Premier League history last year and has been one of the league’s best chance creators since his arrival.
Ozil is known as a chance creator and someone that assists his teammates. There are hundreds of memes and jokes on the internet about how Ozil is the ultimate assister and that assisting his teammates is his main role. This year though he’s been more of a shot taker as opposed to a shot creator than he has been in the past.
In all competitions, Ozil already has seven goals, one off of his career high in a season for Arsenal of eight (last season). He has only ever achieved double digit goals in three seasons in his career and has never scored more than 11 club goals in a season. His seven in 13 appearances makes it look like he could be in for his best goalscoring season of his career.
Looking at Ozil’s underlying shot numbers, there does seem to be a trend in him taking more shots this year. In his 710 Premier League minutes so far, Ozil has averaged two shots per 90 minutes, according to WhoScored.com. Looking at his first three seasons at Arsenal, the Germany averaged 1.3 shots per 90 in 2013/2014, 1.4 shots per 90 minutes in 2014/2015, and 1.4 shots per 90 minutes in 2015/2016. So it hasn’t just been a hot run of finishing, he has actually changed something in his game so far this season that has caused him to take more shots and score more goals.
Looking at the shots, Ozil’s not just taking more pop shots from 20 yards, he is consistently getting in good shooting positions and pulling the trigger more often. He is taking 1.4 shots per 90 minutes from inside the penalty area or inside the six yard box. Comparing that to previous seasons, he averaged 0.9 shots from these locations per 90 minutes in each of his last three seasons with the Gunners. A jump of half a shot per 90 minutes is hardly anything to scoff at. For all he’s known as a shot creator, Ozil has been a shot taker this season too.
Looking at possible reasons for this jump in shot attempts, Arsenal’s new striker could be a big reason. Alexis Sanchez has played up top for Arsenal in nine of Arsenal’s 10 Premier League matches this season. While the Chilean is playing up top, he’s hardly been a classic number nine. Sanchez has played in a false nine role often vacating the central area to go find pockets of space elsewhere. When the Chilean vacates the space, both Theo Walcott and Ozil have often filled that space up top. Ozil has consistently made runs beyond the back line this season after Sanchez vacates the space up top, therefore getting in better shooting positions.
Arsene Wenger has been asking Mesut Ozil to add a few more goals to his game ever since he got to Arsenal. In his fourth season at the club, it looks like the new makeup of the team may enable Ozil to do just that.