The Gunners’ record signing has had a mixed campaign. He started like the proverbial house on fire, but the winter months dampened the flames somewhat. Fatigue and injuries began to take their toll, and his contribution waned.
However, since returning to the side against Hull, Ozil has looked back to his imperious best. Against Newcastle, his performance earned him Sky Sports’ coveted Man of the Match award. Ozil was tight-lipped in his post-match interview but no matter: He had done his talking on the pitch.
His passing was, as usual, impeccable. According to Squawka, his pass completion rate stood at a staggering 94 percent. Given that Ozil operates in congested areas and is ambitious and progressive with his passing, that’s a remarkable level of accuracy. Ozil completed 47 of 50 attempted passes.
Ozil created six chances on Monday night, taking his tally for the season to 69. Given that he’s missed 12 of Arsenal’s Premier League matches, that proves the German is a prolific creator.
He is not a prolific goalscorer, but he was on hand to tap in a rebound for his fifth league goal of the season. That’s one area where Ozil’s game can obviously improve.
Speaking to Dave Hytner of The Guardian, Arsene Wenger sounds confident Ozil can convert his undoubted talent into the tangible reward of goals:
Mesut had a period where he was tired because he was not used to playing through the [English] season. Before he got injured, he had a period where he was a bit jaded. But he is a fantastic player and I would put him on the list to be player of the season next season.
The first season is the season in which you adapt and then you know what will happen and you go into it. I believe he will know better his partners, he will know better the league and the potential is absolutely fantastic. The improvement will be in goals, assists and his presence in the game.
Ozil might also be helped by new arrivals.
Olivier Giroud is not the ideal striker to play in front of the perspicacious playmaker. The Frenchman does not have the pace required to run in behind, where Ozil’s laser-like passing can find him. With a faster striker, Ozil would flourish.
Ozil could yet cap his first season in English football by winning the FA Cup. However, next season, his focus will be on bigger prizes. A player with his extraordinary gifts should be lifting the Premier League or Champions League Trophy.
Wenger has laid down the gauntlet to Ozil. Time will tell if he can meet the challenge.
All stats via Squawka.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.