Arsenal vs. Napoli: Mesut Ozil Inspires Gunners on Glorious Night
It's not just the victory. It's the manner of the victory. The 2-0 scoreline fails to capture the Gunners' sheer dominance. Arsenal faced a side at the top of Serie A that had not yet lost a game this season.
However, from the first minute to the last, Arsene Wenger's team were in complete control.
Wenger's name rang around the Emirates Stadium in the game's closing stages. It seems absurd now to think that many were questioning his competence just a matter of weeks ago. It is too early to draw any sweeping conclusions about this Arsenal team's prospects, but the signs are that this could be the year they finally return to competing for major prizes.
This performance had all the hallmarks of the great Wenger teams. Their passing was immaculate. According to the BBC, the Gunners had 63 percent of possession.
In the past, Arsenal have been accused of being staid on the ball and failing to adequately convert possession into genuine goalscoring opportunities. The arrival of Mesut Ozil has changed that dramatically. His efficiency ensures that his every touch of the ball is laced with intent. He struts around the pitch in a casual manner, but when it arrives at his feet, he injects Arsenal's game with purpose.
This was a big stage for Ozil, and he shined.
At Madrid, he was forced to share the spotlight with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. At Arsenal, he is the undisputed star, and he seems to be enjoying the limelight.
The opening goal on the night, and Ozil's first in Arsenal colours, underlined his class. Most players wold have opted to try to tame Aaron Ramsey's fizzed cross with a cautious first touch. However, Ozil has absolute and justified faith in his technique. He let the ball drift across his body to his instep, cushioning it beautifully inside the near post from the edge of the area. It was a moment of breathtaking brilliance.
By the time your breath had recovered, Arsenal were 2-0 ahead.
Again, Ozil was instrumental. He picked up a lay-off from Giroud to drive into the penalty area, daring the Napoli defenders to bring him down. However, no one could get close enough. Instead, Ozil used the outside of his boot to flick an exquisite pass into the path of Giroud, who simply had to make contact to ensure the ball few high into the net.
Only recently, Arsenal fans could only have dreamed of acquiring a player of Ozil's elite calibre, yet they're now able to see him play week after week in the flesh. If Ozil and the rest of the Gunners team can continue this startling form, Arsenal supporters' dreams of silverware could become a reality too.
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