Mesut Ozil’s performance in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Leicester sent a reminder to those who who’ve questioned his worth at Arsenal by showing that you can write him off at your peril.
Donning the skipper’s armband, the 30-year-old now has three goals in his last four Premier League appearances, as many as he bagged in his previous 22 in the competition – and against Leicester emphasised his leadership qualities by wearing the captain’s armband and taking the game to Claude Puel’s side.
Unai Emery’s team have been slow starters in the first half of games this season and the game against the Foxes was no different. The Gunners haven’t led at half-time in any of their last nine league matches – their longest run in the top flight since August and November 1999.
They had Bernd Leno to thank for a string of excellent saves in the first half, including a pin-point stop from defender Harry Maguire, but it was the visitors’ dominance down the flanks which caused Arsenal no end of problems.
Ben Chilwell’s deflected effort off Hector Bellerin gave Puel’s side a lead on 31 minutes as the jubilant travelling fans chanted ‘champions of England, more recent than you’.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half substitution immediately injected life into Arsenal. The Gabon striker has now been directly involved in 21 goals in his 22 league games for Arsenal, with 16 goals and 5 assists, and looks like the perfect player to start from the off or come off the bench to make an impact.
Bellerin meanwhile now has four assists in nine league games this season, with Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy the only other player to record more.
But while Leno, Aubameyang and Bellerin all deserve to be singled out for praise, it was truly the Ozil show on Monday night as the number 10 became the Premier League’s top German scorer of all time with his goal that levelled things at 1-1.
That wasn’t enough for Mesut, though, whose defence-splitting through-ball beat no less than five opposition players to find Bellerin, who coolly set up Aubameyang for a tap in.
Fast forward just three minutes and he was at it again, this time starting off the counter-attacking move which culminated in the man himself setting up Aubameyang for his second. It was the kind of performance that Arsenal fans, now used to disappointment, have been demanding from their players.
Indeed, Arsenal’s domestic success has been limited to FA Cup trophies in recent seasons and while they haven’t won the league since their famous unbeaten season in 2004, Emery has at his disposal a united squad who continue to surpass expectations game by game.
Five goals at Fulham, three goals against Leicester and 10 wins in a row in all competitions is form that a top four side would be proud of. While the aim of Emery is to be successful in each trophy, his Europa League nous means that Arsenal will be hopeful of going far in the second tier European competition.
However, it can be made easier by a strong league finish. Arsenal certainly need to improve their form in the first half of games, but if they continue to pick up points while playing entertaining football, it won’t be long before they are considered title contenders.
The main concern for Emery will be his side’s lack of depth at the back and defensive errors which seem to be gifted to the opposition at times, although 10 wins in a row suggests that his team are doing enough to become one of the leading lights in the league this season.
And if Ozil can keep up this incredible form? Who knows what could happen.