Arsenal's midfield enigma Mesut Ozil is scrutinised perhaps more than any other Premier League player, but those who paid close attention to his performance in last night's 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers were treated to a reminder of just how good the potent playmaker can be on top form.
Ozil has his flaws and a languid, almost aloof demeanour gets him into trouble he could do without at times, but there was a determined streak about his work at Loftus Road that should be hugely encouraging for Gunners fans and Arsene Wenger alike.
The £42.4m man created more chances than any other player on the pitch (5), beat five players in one-on situations and generally enjoyed the freedom of midfield during a second half where there was oceans of space to exploit. Wenger used Ozil in his preferred central role with a licence to drift and he thrived, so this is where the World Cup winner has to stay for the long-term.
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QPR performance featured a few magic moments
Arsenal fans finally got to see a display of purpose from Ozil on the road for the first time since perhaps a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in September, a match which saw him score the opener.
Ozil knew that with Tomas Rosicky to his right he could interchange and move out wide if he saw opportunities to do damage, which is exactly what he did. One mazy dribble in particular summed up an improved attitude that's been evident since he returned from partially tearing knee ligaments two months ago.
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The 26-year-old picked up the ball in his own half and suckered in Junior Hoilett, before clipping the ball over his outstretched leg and bursting inside to set up a promising counter attack.
A neat Cruyff turn and shot on the edge of the penalty area also came very close to delivering Ozil's fifth goal of the season. An outstretched arm from Rob Green tipped that goal-bound strike onto the post but the message was clear, Ozil is eminently capable of delivering the goods even if regular 8/10 performances have been in short supply over the last 12 months for club and country.
Keep Mesut in the middle
Wenger let Ozil play in his preferred number 10 last night and reaped the rewards, but that starting position doesn't mean he's restricted to staying narrow, far from it.
Arsenal operate a fluid attacking unit that can interchange to give defenders problems and that was evident for Olivier Giroud's goal that broke the deadlock in West London.
Ozil picked the ball up in space where a number 10 should be, but was immediately greeted by Alexis Sanchez sprinting off the flank into acres of space.
Sanchez's move inside allowed Ozil to pick him out and in turn create space for Kieran Gibbs to bomb on and overlap, pretty much a classic example of the counter-attacking Wenger encourages.
Arsenal are far more capable of making that swift punishing transition from defence to attack in numbers with Ozil supplying the bullets, from a central position to boot.
Criticism over work-rate is wide of the mark
Critics of Ozil often accuse the former Real Madrid linchpin of disinterest, not working hard to be part of a defensive shape out of possession or to make penetrative runs in the final third.
They may have had a point in 2014, but since February 1st a noticeably more defined Ozil has run further than any other Arsenal squad according to statistics compiled by The Telegraph.
Ozil also clocked up more kilometres than any other player on the pitch in recent matches against Monaco and Everton.
The 26-year-old averages 10.84km and in the Premier League's top 25 hardest working players during that spell, but is still branded lazy.
Yes Ozil does do a lot of chasing out of possession and can't offer the same dazzling turn of pace to carry the ball long distances like Alexis Sanchez, but still those statistics do render recent criticism misguided if not entirely redundant.
Delivering in big matches remains the big issue
This isn't just one big love-in when it comes to Ozil though, because like many of his team-mates that Monaco defeat featured an anonymous display which gave his detractors enough ammunition to last a lifetime.
Ozil has to replace that painful memory with a meaningful contribution in a massive Arsenal victory against quality opposition. Monday's FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United provides the perfect opportunity to do just that, but will he take it?
First things first Wenger has to pick him, which after the standout display against QPR should be close to a certainty. After all if you've shattered a club transfer record to sign a player with experience at the highest level surely he'll be trusted to start at Old Trafford?
The ultimate example of a modern football introvert has talent that demands respect, but he's still missing a memorable night to justify Wenger's faith.
Make it work with Sanchez and Giroud next week and that gaping hole in his Arsenal career will be taken care of overnight.
Arsenal fans, do you think Ozil is turning the corner? Why do you think he continues to get so much criticism? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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