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Mesut Özil has finally silenced his critics

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On 2 September 2013, Arsenal completed the signing of Mesut Özil from Real Madrid for £42.4 million - a record fee.

However, Özil was by no means an instant success - his low defensive work rate and lack of big-game mentality led to widespread criticism.

However, after a shaky start, it's become clear that Özil has returned his brilliant best.

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Arsenal signed Özil hoping to acquire an experienced playmaker who would provide numerous assists and create chances for their attackers. While £42.4 million may be a hefty fee, the Gunners were nonetheless signing a player called "the best number 10 in the world" by José Mourinho and "the German Messi" by Germany U21 coach Horst Hrubesch.

However, despite registering 14 assists, Özil's first League season was generally not considered a success. There are numerous possibilities as to why - he was played out of position, on the wing, and perhaps found it hard to adjust to a more physical league.

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Ozil's return from injury

It was the same story at the beginning of 2014/15 as well - Özil was criticised for going missing in the big games, such as those against Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City. His disappointment was so great that some even called for him to be dropped. It may have been a blessing in disguise when Özil picked up an injury that would keep him sidelined for two months.

After he returned, Özil looked considerably more fit, and eventually made his first start since injury against Aston Villa. Özil was arguably the best player on the pitch during that game - a goal, an assist and an excellent all-round performance. It was a sign of what was to come. In his first five starts since injury, Özil scored twice and assisted five more goals.

Almost in direct response to the criticism he'd received, Özil began to perform in the big games - he was superb in the 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool and summed up the performance with this gorgeous free kick:

Return of the world-class Ozil

In the second half of the Premier League season, Özil turned from a ridiculed misfit into world class playmaker, and has now established himself as arguably the best number 10 in the league. He has fine dribbling ability, superb vision and is able to split even the toughest defence in two with an accurate through ball.

Statistics from Squawka.com show Özil's revival - he averages 3 key passes and 3 chances created each game, while he dribbling success rate has gone up from 50% to 64.2%.

Following this success, Gunners fans have huge reason to optimistic.

Reports suggest that Arsène Wenger will hand Özil his preferred Number 10 role next campaign as the Gunners target the title.

The combination of the reborn Mesut Özil with the likes of Alexis Sánchez, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey will be frightening indeed.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Premier League
Football

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