Mesut Özil received some rare praise from the media for his performance on Thursday night against Östersunds FK.
The English media, so quick to jump on Özil when things go wrong, were surprisingly kind to the German on Wednesday morning.
The Daily Telegraph’s headline proclaimed “Özil leads the way as Arsenal show Swedish hosts no mercy”.
They went on to compare the 29-year-old’s presence in the match to “parachuting the special forces into action” and praised the way the playmaker “strutted and scored” on the night.
It should be no real surprise, considering how well Özil played.
Despite playing most of his football in the final third, the World Cup winner completed 90% of his passes. He created three chances for teammates, which they all missed in classic Arsenal fashion.
He took it on himself to score in the second half, finishing confidently after a nice piece of control from a powerful low cross.
Many fans questioned how Özil would react to his first Europa League game, in freezing conditions.
Some cynically implied he’d get the week off, after he missed a few away games over the festive period. The former Real Madrid man proved them all wrong, turned up and ran the show.
It’s unlikely he’ll play much part in the second leg, with Manchester City in the League Cup final at the weekend.
That’s why it was all the more important he showed up in Östersund.
Thankfully he did, and even the media have to accept that.