Arsenal supporters have been making a lot of noise in recent times after seeing their side make it seven wins out of seven in all competitions with victory at the weekend.
Unai Emery’s men went into their encounter with fellow high-flyers Watford off the back of four successive wins in the Premier League, as well as victories in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup in recent weeks. And the Gunners continued their excellent recent run as a Mesut Ozil strike alongside a Craig Cathcart own goal sealed a 2-0 success for the North London giants, thus moving them up to fifth place in the Premier League table.
Thus, there have been many thrilled Arsenal fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from BBC pundit Garth Crooks who, having selected Ozil in his Team of the Week, went on to praise Emery’s bold decision to give the former Germany international the captain’s armband, saying: ‘Well done Unai Emery’.
And given the relatively decent performance produced by the 29-year-old on Saturday, Crooks is absolutely right to praise Emery’s bold call at the weekend, as it may just get the best out of Ozil on a more consistent basis.
Ultimately, the midfielder’s form pretty much ever since moving to the Emirates Stadium back in 2013 has been subject of debate, as while his numbers are impressive in netting 40 goals and laying on 71 assists in 203 appearances for the club, he has too often gone missing in games, especially those against the top sides.
And with that continuing to be a problem even now, five years on from his move from Real Madrid, some Arsenal fans are getting increasingly frustrated with the 29-year-old for simply not living up to his reputation on a consistent enough basis, alongside the fact that he sometimes isn’t willing to do the dirty work and help out defensively.
But by taking over the captaincy following Aaron Ramsey’s substitution on Saturday, the emphasis was then on Ozil to lead by example in front of the 60,000 supporters at the Emirates – with the armband on, there was no place to hide.
And while that responsibility can work the other way, Ozil appeared to be somewhat galvanised by Emery’s decision, with the 29-year-old coming up with the goods in the final third in netting late on, at the same time showing commitment to the cause in tracking back – one sprint back late on appeared to particularly delight Gunners supporters.
Yes, he had up until that point been on the peripheries of the action once again, but by taking the captain’s armband and then moving into a more central role following Ramsey’s withdrawal, the 29-year-old began to improve and pull the strings – there’s no coincidence that his performance levels shot up following these two Emery decisions.
Obviously, it is a lot easier to captain a side that is winning at home and on the verge of a seventh straight victory in all competitions, but based on his short stint as the on-field captain on Saturday, Emery may well be tempted to give Ozil the armband once again.
As such, Crooks is absolutely right to praise the Arsenal manager for his ‘innovation’ in giving Ozil the responsibility as captain, as that alongside moving centrally enabled the 29-year-old to produce his best phase of Saturday’s match.
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