There are few footballers who needed a goal this weekend more so than Mesut Ozil.
The Arsenal midfielder gave his side the lead against Aston Villa with a cool finish after new signing Danny Welbeck slipped him through. Just moments later, Ozil returned the favor with a perfect cross for Welbeck to score his first Arsenal goal.
It was easily the German international's best game of the season so far, and probably his best game in an Arsenal shirt for months. In addition to his goal and assist, he completed two key passes and 92 percent of his passes overall.
The performance was a far cry from his shocker in Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, where he touched the ball just 33 times—less than any other player on the pitch—before being substituted off in the 62nd minute.
Arsenal fans will hope to see more of the Mesut Ozil who tore apart Aston Villa and less of the one who was invisible against Dortmund.
Unfortunately, it's been more of the latter recently, and it's no secret that Ozil has struggled for form since the new year. Squawka Football notes a few of Ozil's stats:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Mesut Ozil scored 4 & assisted 7 goals during his first 15 Premier League games for Arsenal; compared to 1 goal & 2 assists in his last 15.2014-9-20 13:53:47
There have been a few notable reasons for his dip in form. One of them, it must be said, is simply the time it takes to adapt to the physicality of the English Premier League.
Then there's the lack of players suited to his playing style. At Real Madrid, Ozil had the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria to run onto his through balls. Those are all quick players who look to make runs in behind the opposition defense.
During the second half of last season, Arsenal had few players that Ozil could find with his passes and, rather, more creative players that were built in the Ozil mould—see Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky.
While it makes for pretty football to have two or three playmakers on the field at a time, Arsenal often lacked directness in their attacks, and it seemed like the only way they could score was through intricate one-touch moves in the box.
It's also no coincidence that Ozil began to go off the boil at around the same time Aaron Ramsey was sidelined for three months. The two formed a dangerous partnership, and it appeared the Welshman was one of the few Arsenal players who truly played on the same wavelength as Ozil.
With both Ramsey and Theo Walcott injured, there was a complete lack of attacking movement for Ozil to feed off of. Olivier Giroud is a striker who plays with his back to goal and depends on teammates running past him, which doesn't suit Ozil's style of play.
Now, however, there is reason to believe that Ozil will find his best form again and take the Premier League by storm—something we all know he's capable of doing.
In Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, Ozil has two attacking outlets who look to get behind the opposition defense with pace—similar to what he had at Real Madrid. That's not comparing Danny Welbeck to Cristiano Ronaldo, but after watching Welbeck and Ozil link up against Aston Villa it's clear that their playing styles suit each other.
One simple action that can be taken to get the best out of Ozil is to play him in his correct position. The 25-year-old has often been played on the left side of Arsene Wenger's new 4-1-4-1 formation and has been ineffective in nearly every appearance he's played there.
Squawka Football @Squawka
Mesut Ozil game in numbers: 1 goal 1 assist 2 chances created 92% pass accuracy 1 take-on completed. No. 10. http://t.co/QGblt83Xde2014-9-20 16:01:06
Against Aston Villa he was in a more familiar central role and, unsurprisingly, he played much better there than he did on the wing.
After a debut season filled with ups and downs, now is the time for Mesut Ozil to silence his critics. With Walcott returning from injury and plenty of pace elsewhere in the Arsenal attack, the former Real Madrid man has all of the tools to succeed. Assuming he's played in the correct position, it's now up to him prove his worth in an Arsenal shirt.
All statistics via WhoScored.com unless otherwise noted.