Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger got the opportunity to partner Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil in attack for the first time against Leicester City tonight, a move which looks like it could get the best out of the latter judging from his stylish first-half display.
That's not to say Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck can't still be very useful players to Wenger moving forward, but Ozil is the man that can use his intelligence to make things happen around him even when Arsenal are far from their best if given the opportunity and he showed that this evening.
Ozil was fantastic in potent patches during a nervy 2-1 victory which takes Arsenal back to fourth in the Premier League for 24 hours at least, creating both goals before the break in a performance which hints that the enigmatic German international is on the verge of finally rediscovering his best form.
Ozil had the freedom to make things happen early on
A relatively subdued Arsenal display early on was not at all surprising given their shortcomings in the North London derby just three days ago, but what was far more unexpected is that Ozil was the man dropping deep and attempting to get his team going as Leicester asserted themselves early on.
Riyad Mahrez in particular looked very lively in the first 15 minutes but it was Ozil who produced the first true moment of genuine quality during that worrying spell, exchanging passes with Sanchez and delaying a pinpoint through ball just long enough for Walcott to break free in oceans of space behind the Leicester defence.
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Two assists followed
Walcott failed to beat Foxes goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from close range with a cheeky chip, but that first attack was a sign of things to come and Ozil had a pair of assists before the first half was done.
The £42.1m man helped break the deadlock by gliding a teasing towards Laurent Koscielny to tap home a sitter at the front post, but also forced Schwarzer into the save that led to that set-piece opportunity with a moment of quality inside the final third.
Arsenal have now scored more goals from set-piece situations than any other team in the Premier League this season. Now there's a statistic you never thought would be associated with a Wenger team.
Strike from range summed up confident mood
Ozil slows the game down in the final third for a purpose, attempting to maximise the chances of making an accurate, telling pass where it matters most, in the final third. Its not just a played at allowing the pass master to become the latest Arsenal playmaker accused of trying to walk the ball into the net.
The World Cup winner definitely has flaws, there's no question about that, but in important flashes tonight there were signs that after a difficult six months a mercurial talent is on his way back to becoming the world-class player his technical prowess deserves and demands.
Confidence is key to a player like Ozil's make-up, with the margins between a killer through ball and misplaced pass so slim. With that in mind Arsenal fans should take heart from his hand in their second goal, with the 26-year-old unleashing a very rare strike from distance because there was absolutely nothing else on.
Schwarzer could only parry and Walcott took full advantage with a precision finish on the volley from close range, which just about proved enough for Arsenal to claim three points they desperately needed after their White Hart Lane woe.
Best front three doesn't feature Giroud
Arsenal fizzled out in the second half and needed Ozil to stay in a more rigid wide role when Sanchez succumbed to knee pain and was replaced by Giroud, but Wenger should remember the fluidity that his starting attacking trio played with at times, particularly on the counter.
Ozil, Sanchez and Walcott together are interchangeable and give Arsenal something precious few sides have, a front three that can chop and change at any time to give defences nightmares in-behind.
When Giroud leads the line Arsenal do get a physical focal point, but at the expense of keeping Ozil and Alexis Sanchez running in the opposite direction when the Gunners don't have potential.
Giroud has and can continue to be a very useful option for Wenger over the course of a long and gruelling season, but realistically can a team with the Frenchman as first-choice striker win the title? I'm not convinced.
The sheer force and pace and guile Arsenal possess with a triumvirate of Walcott, Sanchez and Ozil can take the Gunners in a different, infinitely more positive direction for next season and beyond, particularly if gets the best out of a German international who when at his most potent is still their best player.
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