When you spend £42m on a footballer, he has to be one of the very best footballers in your team.
That’s to say, he has to have a positive influence more often than everyone else. Mesut Özil does.
For all of Alexis Sánchez’ energy, or Francis Coquelin’s grit, the German is the man who makes this Arsenal team tick. When he plays well, everything fits together as it should. The problem is, people don’t always see it.
Özil isn’t the star, he’s the director. Alexis takes centre stage but Özil is the one pulling the strings, allowing his team-mates to look good. That level of influence is great, but it doesn’t get you the recognition you so often deserve. That’s why Özil’s goal against Manchester United was so great two weeks ago.
“You want Mesut to score as well in a big game and he did that against Man United,” manager Arsène Wenger told the press on Thursday. “When you are an offensive player that is an important part of it.
“I believe there are goals in him and in that game he has shown it.”
As such a talented (an expensive) member of the squad, Özil is someone we have to look to when we need to make a difference in a game, particularly a game against a direct rival. He did that with almost every touch against Manchester United and it was sublime.
There’s no coincidence that the team looked good while the playmaker enjoyed one of his finest games for Arsenal. Now, is it too much to ask to see that more often? We need it, especially when really it matters.
Özil has his supporting cast now, so it’s time to create more brilliance.