Arsene Wenger believes that Mesut Ozil is currently enjoying his best run of form since signing for Arsenal in 2013.
Even though Ozil has suffered some harsh and often unnecessary criticism since joining Arsenal in 2013, the German has arguably become a far more well-rounded midfielder and Wenger believes he’s even better now than when the Gunners first signed him.
“More important than the goal is the quality and influence he has on the collective game,” Wenger said after Ozil scored a stunning volley against Newcastle on Saturday. “You cannot wait to score a goal like that every week but you can play like he does every week.
“Is this his best run of form at Arsenal? Certainly. He takes responsibilities and that’s what you want from him.
“He’s mature. He guides the team very well. He’s a lot on the ball. Your heart-rate goes down when he has the ball.”
As Wenger says, the playmaker has been given far more responsibility at Arsenal. He’s not just Cristiano Ronaldo’s assist machine like he was at Real Madrid, he’s the heart and soul behind the Gunners’ attack.
When Arsenal spent £42.5m on him four years ago, it was to make him star of the show.
Playing in a more physical league has taught the 29-year-old the importance of being strong and defending with the team.
At Real, Ozil made 105 La Liga appearances, scoring 19 goals and providing 55 assists. On average, this was 6.33 goals and 18.33 assists per season.
Before this term, he managed 45 assists and 23 goals at Arsenal. That’s 11.25 assists a season and 5.75 goals.
Therefore, his stats going forward at Arsenal aren’t as good as at Real, which is largely to do with not having Ronaldo playing in front of him. If you have the best player in the world getting on the end of your chances, you’re naturally going to rack up more assists.
I also think that the calibre of player surrounding him at Real in addition to Ronaldo would have positively influenced his stats.
However, defensively and physically, I do agree with Wenger that Ozil is probably the strongest, most complete player he’s ever been. Hopefully, the playmaker thinks so too and decides to stay in north London.