Defeat against Chelsea on Sunday was a sucker punch, and a milestone went under the radar as a result.
Mesut Özil was playing his 100th Arsenal game in the 1-0 defeat, so here’s a look at some of his highs and lows so far.
After so many years of top talent leaving, Özil arrived at London Colney in September 2013 with a beaming smile. He restored belief at Arsenal, he gave us hope. And he didn’t disappoint. Just 11 minutes into his Arsenal debut he provided an assist, laying a chance on a plate for Olivier Giroud to score against Sunderland.
His first Arsenal goal would come soon after, when he beautifully stroked the ball home against Napoli. The team was firing, and Özil built a special relationship with Aaron Ramsey. Together they were crucial in leading us to the top of the Premier League title.
Soon after, Ramsey got injured. Özil would soon follow, but not before he’d missed a penalty against FC Bayern Munich which got the entire media on his back. ‘Lazy’, ‘lethargic’ and not involved enough were the main accusations, usually wide of the mark. It went ignored that whenever Arsenal did something good he was at the heart of it, that he carried the team. Performances like the one against Southampton in January were ignored because he didn’t score or assist, but he had dragged the team back into the game almost single-handedly.
After nine years, we won a trophy. Lifting the FA Cup in May, we ended the long wait for silverware. All we had to do was sign Mesut Özil!
The summer of 2014 saw him return from Brazil a world champion, but injury kept him out for most of the first half of the campaign. He returned confident and with a point to prove, and hasn’t looked back since. In 50 games, our German has scored nine goals and laid on 24 assists. So far this season he has been the best player in the Premier League and scored in two crucial Champions League games too.
Whether or not he’s been a success at Arsenal isn’t a question. The only thing to debate is how much of a success he’s been. I’d argue, on everything from trophies to the way we play and where we’d be without him, he couldn’t have been better.