Although Arsenal were unable to come through with the result they wanted against Manchester City on Dec. 14, there were definitely some positives to take away from the match, but the play of midfielder Mesut Ozil didn't qualify.
The German superstar didn't score a goal in the Gunners' disappointing 6-3 loss to the Citizens, and he wasn't nearly as dangerous as he has looked throughout Arsenal's strong 2013-14 season.
Arsenal trailed 1-0 after a Sergio Aguero goal in the 14th minute, but they struck back 31 minutes in. Theo Walcott had luck on his side as a deflected shot found its way past Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, but it was a goal nonetheless.
Ozil made his biggest impact of the match on that play as he found a wide-open Walcott just outside the box with a beautiful cross, according to Arsenal's official Twitter account:
That pass perfectly illustrated the skill and elegance of Ozil's game, but unfortunately for the Gunners, it was absent throughout.
Arsenal only unleashed eight shots toward the goal with three on frame, and Ozil took none of them. While Ozil is admittedly more of a playmaker than a pure goalscorer, he needs to show more assertiveness in order for the Gunners to truly challenge for the EPL title.
To illustrate the importance of Ozil to Arsenal's success, consider this stat courtesy of OptaJoe:
2/4 - Of Arsenal’s last 10 Premier League goals, two have been scored and four assisted by Mesut Ozil. Key.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 14, 2013
Even when Ozil isn't scoring himself, he usually has a hand (or a foot) in it. That was apparent when he assisted on Walcott's first tally of the match, but Manchester City shut him down for the remainder of the contest, and thus shut down the Gunners as a whole.
How do you grade Mesut Ozil's performance vs. Manchester City?
It wouldn't be fair to blame Ozil solely for Arsenal's failures, though, because he didn't have the support of Santi Cazorla against Man City. Cazorla and Ozil usually form a dynamic midfield combination, but Arsene Wenger opted to rest the Spanish dynamo.
Cazorla takes a lot of pressure off of Ozil in most matches since the opposing defense has to split its attention. Cazorla's absence allowed Manchester City to focus on Ozil, and it showed.
Arsenal's performance was somewhat concerning for their fans since Manchester City are a club that they will have to contend with down the stretch, but it was a difficult road assignment in the first place.
Based on Ozil's body of work, his showing against Man City was nothing more than an outlier, and it should be treated as such.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.