The Arsenal faithful haven’t quite settled on a song purely for Mesut Özil as of yet, but we surely need to.
It’s not right that Bale gets a mention every time we want to celebrate our supreme playmaker, and on Sunday he certainly ruled supreme as we made Middlesbrough look much worse than the tight defensive unit at the top of the Championship.
In five starts since his return from injury, Mesut has racked up three goals, two assists and 17 chances created.
Against Middlesbrough alone he set up seven (yes, SEVEN) chances for team mates.
Bearing in mind Arsenal have played pants in at least two of those games, that’s a pretty good return to say the least.
He’s also averaging two shots per game at a shot accuracy of 88% and a conversion of 38% – a far cry from the shot-shy shell of last season and a sure sign that he’s got his mojo back – he never shoots when he’s not brimming with confidence.
All in all they’re the kind of stats we bought him for.
More than just stats
But with Özil, it’s about so much more than stats.
Every time you re-watch his performances, they get better with each viewing as you start to appreciate his influence.
Against Boro he looked world class on first viewing alone so imagine how good he’ll look when we re-watch the game.*
*Well, I’ll rewatch it anyway, because I’m a loser like that. Apparently Arsenal is an addiction! Who’d have thought it?
He made two incisive drives which ended in powerful shots to bring the best out of Meijas – the Boro keeper had an excellent game by and large – and his interchange with the likes of Cazorla and Alexis was breathtaking at times.
It wasn’t just on the attacking side that he shone however, pressing strongly throughout and making a lung busting run to cover for Gibbs when the full back chased forward onto a ball in the box. It was symptomatic of how unheralded his defensive work is, and yet he is rarely found wanting in the moments which matter.
He is the ultimate efficient footballer.
There was still the odd sign of rust which is inevitable after the length of lay-off he has endured, particularly late in the game when he chose to slow the game down rather than play the incisive final pass to seal the game on the counter attack.
Even some of that could be down to just wanting to see the game out.
However, his touch is clearly back, whether it is controlling on the stretch, cushioning a cross field pass or playing a one touch flick to get someone through on goal.
His play is just utterly effortless.
Clearly he has the skills as he demonstrates from time to time, but he only uses them when necessary, either because he has no choice or because if it comes off it will make a difference – instead he just does the simple things to perfection.
It also makes the players around him tick.
Playing with confidence, playing with style, and playing with freedom, Özil has shown exactly why Ronaldo was so loathed to see him leave and why Arsene was so excited for him to arrive at the Emirates.
For most of last season, Özil carried the weight of Arsenal expectation, and his languid style failed to earn him the credit he deserved, before he eventually faded a little in 2014.
This season, the form of Santi Cazorla and the impact of Alexis has taken a huge weight off his shoulders.
He’s playing like the £42m man we signed, and that is very exciting indeed.