Mesut Özil made an impressive comeback on Wednesday night, albeit against a weakened side, but the stats don’t entirely tell that story.
If someone took a glance at Özil’s creative stats for the match at Anfield, they’d see two chances created and one assist, but that doesn’t do the performance justice.
Özil was heavily involved in three of Arsenal’s first four goals on the night. He picked Saka out excellently for a shot which rebounded for Lucas Torreira to score the first, before again picking out Saka with a ball around the corner in the build-up to the third.
The German was running back towards his own goal but whilst intercepting the ball he showed awareness of Saka’s forward run to lay it off with his first touch. That allowed the winger to get ahead of the defence quickly and pass the ball to Martinelli for a tap-in.
Then came the actual assist for the fourth goal, as he cleverly flicked the ball back to Maitland-Niles instead of shooting from a tight angle himself. All three goals mentioned can be watched below:
Helping your team score three goals in 65 minutes is never bad going, but Özil was also just generally a positive influence on the game. He provided the link between midfield and attack that the team have so often missed recently, and he did the little things well.
With the wingers Arsenal have in the squad, they should be much more of a counter-attacking threat than they have been this season. However, without someone like Özil in the team, the deeper midfielders and defenders often can’t find that out ball.
Even when they do, the winger is usually isolated and forced to take on multiple defenders at once.
That changed in the Liverpool match, as Özil carried possession forward before finding an attacker in a good position to make something happen. He’d then support that attacker to give them options.
If the playmaker is going to perform like that on a regular basis, Unai Emery can’t excuse leaving him out anymore.