Arsenal

Pundit’s Choice: Mesut Ozil

Pundit’s Choice: Mesut Ozil

Arsenal supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their team record a tenth straight victory in all competitions on Monday night.

Unai Emery’s men went into their encounter with Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium off the back of six successive wins in the Premier League, alongside two successes in the Europa League and indeed a Carabao Cup win over Brentford. And the Gunners made it seven league wins in a row and ten in all competitions despite falling behind to Claude Puel’s side, with a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as a Mesut Ozil strike sealing a 3-1 win for the Gunners, thus keeping them two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

As such, there have been many delighted Arsenal fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, who was full of praise for Ozil and his performance against the Foxes, albeit did warn somewhat against getting ‘carried away’.

And given we have been here before with the former Germany international, in that he has produced the goods against the so-called lesser teams but not necessarily on the big stage, Souness is absolutely right to somewhat dub down expectation.

Ultimately, the 30-year-old was a big money addition at Arsenal back in 2013 as former boss Arsene Wenger sought to take the club back towards the summit of the Premier League, only for Ozil to somewhat ‘polarise opinion’, as Souness expertly put it, during his time in North London.

Yes, his record of 41 goals and 72 assists in 205 appearances for the Gunners is mightily impressive and performances like against Leicester on Monday night underline just what a special player the 30-year-old is, but when Arsenal have been crying out for him to do that in the big games against the fellow top six sides, or indeed in Europe, he has often failed to deliver.

In fact, his record against the other big six teams is remarkably poor, with Ozil managing just one goal in 13 appearances against Chelsea; two goals and two assists in 11 games against Manchester United; and two goals and an assist in eight games against Liverpool.

And while he has registered four assists apiece against Tottenham and Manchester City, his overall numbers simply don’t stack up for a player earning more than any other player currently at the Emirates Stadium (as per Spotrac), and one they spent £42.4 million on little over five years ago.

And when all that is brought together, one would expect Ozil to be the Gunners’ talisman in matches like that – a world class player producing the goods against the best sides in the country – but that simply hasn’t happened regularly enough during his career.

Yes, things might turn out to be different this time round under the stewardship of new boss Emery, while being given the captain’s armband by the Arsenal manager could prove to be a masterstroke, but there have been plenty of false dawns in the past for Gunners supporters to wonder whether this time will really be any different.

Souness is absolutely right to praise Ozil for his efforts against Leicester, given he was magnificent and played a key part in a great Arsenal victory, but warning against getting ‘carried away’ was absolutely the right move – after all, we’ve been here before plenty of times.

Arsenal fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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