Mesut Özil's talent is undoubted. Whether it's at the Emirates, Wembley or the Maracana, he has been rather successful over the past 12 months. He is a fantastic talent, when played in the correct position of course.
On Saturday Özil, who was finally played in his favoured central attacking midfield position after a series of lacklustre displays on the left wing, ran Aston Villa ragged during a comfortable 3-0 win for the Gunners.
It was the sort of display that people should come to expect from the £42million man. He created, scored and at times was able to switch between gears, something that has not become an option for him recently.
Signs of a partnership
The German's combination with new boy Danny Welbeck looks an exciting prospect for Arsenal fans. And with Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott to come back, along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making runs, Özil's famous through balls could become a more prominent sight this season.
Mesut Özil playing well is certainly a wonderful sight, his ability to glide in and out of challenges as well as finding passes that other wouldn't even see has given him the reputation of, as Jose Mourinho claimed, one of if not 'the best no.10 in the world'.
Nevertheless, this did not stop Arsene Wenger from experimenting Özil in the left wing role of a 4-1-4-1 formation in which Özil and Arsenal's performances immediately dropped. Perhaps Wenger saw the success in which David Silva - a player who is almost a carbon copy of Özil's style - enjoyed on the left-wing and was encouraged to play him there. The move backfired.
Özil is certainly a player who thrives on confidence and it was not only for Arsenal where he was receiving criticism, it was the national team as well.
“It’s so strange", said Özil during his interview with the Telegraph's Henry Winter after Germany's World Cup triumph.
"The negative criticism came out of nowhere: it went from zero to 100. I went from being the darling of German football, the jewel in the crown, to being hammered in the media."
Ability is no question
Yet it's not Özil's ability that comes under the most scrutiny from pundits and fans, it's his work rate. This season alone, during his torrid, but ultimately short period on the left, Özil was at fault for not tracking Seamus Coleman for his opener at Goodison Park, as well as often exposing left-backs Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs against Manchester City and Dortmund respectively.
His performances even convinced Arsenal fans to claim that he should be sold if he continued his poor start to the season.
So for Özil, low on confidence before the trip to Villa Park, to shine in his first start at No.10 this season on Saturday proved to the Arsenal fans and more importantly Wenger that when put in the right position, he oozes class.
The German certainly knows where he plays best. "On the left, it’s more difficult", claimed Özil when discussing his World Cup role for Germany. "If I do get past someone I’m still away from the danger zone, still on the flank, and it’s harder for me to find the final ball with my right foot than with my left."
As the case worth most players, the confidence Özil gained form Saturday's performance also lifted his work rate. The German ran 11.3km against Villa, more than any other Arsenal player.
Özil's return to form should lift an Arsenal side who have come under heavy criticism after the abject display in Dortmund in the Champions League. None more so than ex-Arsenal man Paul Merson who claimed that after the performance on Tuesday night, the Gunners are a 'gillion miles away' from the title this season.
Wenger's surprising decision not to add a centre defensive-midfielder, a position which has so often been Arsenal's achilles heel in recent years, still makes the Gunners vulnerable of being overrun against the big teams, as showed against the 2013 Champions League finalists on Tuesday.
Another worry for the Gunners is the lack of cover in defence. Mathieu Debuchy is likely to be out for 3 months and with Calum Chambers being the only cover at centre-back, Arsenal fans will be hoping for no more defensive injuries this season.
Yet amid all the doom and gloom of Tuesday night, the return to form of Özil is a huge positive for Arsenal. He is yet to prove himself as a match-winner in the big games but if he produces more performances like the one against Villa, that could all change.
Arsenal need the support of Mesut Özil and Mesut Özil needs the support of Arsenal. That means no left-wing, no criticising and no lacklustre performances. When the relationship clicks, it's a match made in heaven.
If Arsenal are to win things this season, Özil will have to be firing on all fronts. "We can achieve something big this season", the German claims. It will be tough for the Gunners to triumph in this season's Premier League, but with a consistent and firing Mesut Özil in the team however, you wouldn't bet against them surprising a few this campaign.
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