Arsenal have been surprising a few people this season. The Gunners haven’t lit the league alight, but have been quietly going about their business and find themselves in second place.
In fact, Arsene Wenger’s men are only behind Manchester City on goal difference and have lost just one game in all competitions in seven months.
At the heart of this impressive form has been their record signing, Mesut Ozil, who has even been chipping in with goals recently. Moreover, Thierry Henry believes he knows the reason for this anomalous spike in scoring for the German.
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Goal scoring form
Identifying the fact that Ozil is a world-class player is old news, but the 28-year-old has never been a prolific finisher.
The ex-Real Madrid man is famous for his ability to provide goals and not provide the finishing touch himself. After all, last season saw him amass a staggering 20 assists in all competitions.
Oddly though, goal scoring has been at the heart of Ozil’s game this season. In fact, rather surprisingly, the German has collated treble the amount of goals as he has assists in 2016-17.
With six goals in eight appearances this season, Ozil has already surpassed his Arsenal tally of 2014-15 in which it took him 31 outings to amass just five strikes.
It would take an unprecedented goal drought for this to not be the playmaker’s richest scoring season.
This term even saw the 28-year-old bag his first hat trick in professional football. The opponents may have been minnows Ludogorets, but a treble from midfield is an impressive feat in any game.
It’s easy to point out this anomalous spike in finishing from Ozil, but what’s the reason behind it? Alexis Sanchez.
That’s the answer provided by Henry at least and given his Arsenal nous and Sky Sports punditry; he proves a rather reliable voice.
The 39-year-old, at a Puma event in Kolkata, explained: "By myself, I always said in the past two years that Sanchez could be used as an option as a centre-forward. He's finally playing as a centre- forward. He does it for Chile. So it's not something that he doesn't know how to do.
"He did it for Udinese also in Italy and does it ever so well. When you have a guy who as a No.9, the way he puts pressure, the way he moves, his vision for the ball, that creates a lot of holes for Ozil.
“That's why Ozil is scoring a lot of goals - off the movement of Alexis Sanchez.
"Ozil can now go and make those runs as a No.10. Theo [Walcott] is scoring a lot of goals also because there's a lot of movement.
“I think Arsene [Wenger] did it pretty well and I think the reason why Arsenal are doing well so far during this season is because Alexis is playing up there and making all those movements to create a lot of space for others."
So there you have it, Sanchez brings out the best in Ozil and the goals follow in tandem. There can be little doubting the talent and importance of the duo; this simply serves to accentuate the fact.
In addition, with Henry giving his seal of approval, Wenger would be mad not to continue with the current system. Besides, who knew Ozil was such a nifty finisher?
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