Paul Merson wore the number 10 for Arsenal for much of his 11 seasons at the club, eventually relinquishing it for Dennis Bergkamp.
The former Arsenal man now spends his weekends working for Sky Sports, and has complete admiration for the talents of Arsenal’s current 10, who wears the 11 shirt.
Mesut Özil comes under a lot of pressure and receives far more than his fair share of criticism but Merson thinks he is the best player at the entire club. Last Sunday Özil put in a superb performance as the Gunners beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park. More of the same and the ex-Arsenal man thinks the German could propel a title challenge on his own.
“If Özil can play like he played the other day Arsenal wil have a very good season,” Merson said while speaking to ArsenalFan TV.
“I am a big fan, I think he’s different gravy.”
Özil has been shown to run as far as any other player over the course of a game but his languid style makes him look lazy and disinterested. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“He hasn’t got that [Alexis] Sánchez ‘run around and chase everyone down’,” Merson admitted, “so people think he doesn’t care but he is a proper footballer.
“I think he’s the best footballer at Arsenal.”
It’s hard to argue. When Arsenal play well everything goes through Özil, even if it isn’t obvious at first. He selects passes that aren’t obvious in order to open up spaces which wouldn’t exist otherwise; he’s always playing the game two or three moves ahead.
Sometimes that means even his own teammates won’t be on the same wavelength as him but that doesn’t matter – with his quality, the midfielder can dictate play at ease.
There’s no other player like Mesut Özil at Arsenal, and nobody can influence the game quite like he can. We’re lucky to have such a special talent playing for us.