Rejuvenated Mesut Ozil shows why he's still among Europe's elite
Few footballers have polarised opinion more than Mesut Ozil. For every midfield masterclass we've witnessed from Arsenal's #10, we've also had displays in which the German goes missing inexplicably. The major criticism is that he's never done it in the big games and while that may be true, there are few footballers who are better to watch when in full flight.
The 30-year-old put in a trademark performance against Leicester City on Monday Night Football. It was a display where you just sit back and watch in awe - wherever your allegiances lie. His ability is a rare gift, Ozil is football in its purest form.
Arsenal found themselves 1-0 down as the half-time whistle drew closer. Up steps Ozil with as typical a goal as you're likely to see. He played a slick pass into Hector Bellerin on the right-wing, before floating late into the box and catching the ball perfectly with a cool, left-footed finish. A real thing of beauty. The Gunners were back in the game.
What happened from that point on can only be described as spectacular. Ozil ran the show. He dictated the game with his outrageous vision, perfect technique and unreal quality with the ball at his feet. Arsenal won the game 3-1, with their main playmaker at the heart of everything good about their performance.
Make no mistake about it, Leicester came to The Emirates thinking they could win that match as many have done before them over the last few years. This is a different Arsenal, though, this is a rejuvenated side under Unai Emery, with Ozil proving to be a huge beneficiary.
Sometimes in football, you just have to hold your hands up and say 'that's just too good'. Ozil's ability to run the show, carve out opportunities almost at will and will his team onto an important three points isn't being talked about enough. That's probably because many football fans' minds are already made up on the attacking midfielder, we're all a stubborn lot, aren't we? In that regard, he's similar to Paul Pogba.
You just have to appreciate class when you see it, though. Over the years, I've seen some wonderful performances from sublime #10s, that was right up there. The thing is, we've seen it time-and-time again from Ozil, but often he fails to get the credit he deserves for whatever reason. Alright, I'd like to see more consistency in his game, but when he's in the mood, Ozil is unplayable.
It's the vision, the movement, the ability to see an outrageously difficult pass and then execute it to perfection. Perhaps he needed a change in leadership more than anyone, perhaps the fact that he is by no means a guaranteed starter is spurring him on to do better. Right now, Arsenal are reaping the rewards of an Ozil who has proven he is still more than capable of playing at an immensely high level.
The next task for him is to keep it up for the season's duration. Tougher tasks are to come, Arsenal go toe-to-toe with Liverpool at home in just over a week, that'll be a real test of Ozil's mettle. If he can put in another out-of-this-world display in that one, well, the Premier League big-boys better watch out...