During Wednesday night’s draw against Liverpool, Mesut Ozil was withdrawn for the more defensively minded Mikel Arteta; a decision that Sky Sports’ Paul Merson criticised.
The German midfielder has been in outstanding form this season for the Gunners and alongside this, he was recently awarded the German national team Player of Year award for the fourth time in five years.
Özil received 51,000 votes (45.9%) from Germany supporters, beating Thomas Müller into second place with FC Köln’s Jonas Hector finishing third. Özil ran 92.17km in eight games for the national team in 2015 and made six assists, the most of any Germany player in the calendar year.
After heavy criticism last year, he really seems to be adjusting nicely to the Premier League this season. So much so, that despite the big money transfer of Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City, Ozil has cemented himself as the top attacking midfielder in the Premier League.
Using statistics from Squawka, we can analyse his improvement this season and compare his contribution with other Premier League midfielders.
Firstly, the German international has double the amount of assists of anyone else in the Premier League, bolstering an impressive 16. The next closest are De Bruyne and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez who have both accumulated eight.
This tally of assists is just two shy of Cesc Fabregas’ record last year and just four short of the Premier League’s all-time record, held by ex-Arsenal man Thierry Henry.
He also has created an astonishing 86 chances. Not only does this trump his total tally from the end of last season but it also blows the rest of the players out of the water. The next in line here is out of form – Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, who has created 45 chances thus far.
He falls behind Juan Mata for pass accuracy (by just one per cent). But, given that his percentage still makes for an impressive 88%, you can forgive him that much.
One major factor in his improved form this year is fitness. Injured for a large part of last season, Ozil only played 22 games in the full year. This year, however, he has made 20 appearances already with 17 games still to play.
It can be said, then, that it is highly likely that the Arsenal man will go on to beat Henry’s assist record if his form remains the same as the first half of the season.
He has at last proved his capability to adjust his game to English football and will play a vital role in Arsenal’s ongoing attack for the Premier League trophy.
Video credit: Arsenal Editor.
Enda Coll, Pundit Arena