Since moving to Arsenal in the summer of 2013 for £42.5 million, Mesut Özil has struggled to maintain a high level of performance. Özil’s technical ability is unquestionable but his temperament has faced scrutiny from pundits and fans alike.
A breakthrough on the biggest stage
The World Cup in 2010 was when the German playmaker displayed his talent to the world and was nominated for the Golden Ball award.
Özil’s performances in South Africa earned him a move to the Spanish capital. In his first season at Real Madrid, after leaving Werder Bremen, Özil ranked first in assists in domestic competitions. The year after, he ranked top for assists in La Liga.
Jose Mourinho then controversially sold Özil to Arsenal a season later, for what seemed like the player’s inability to work for the team. A trait that Mourinho craves, and has been seen with his decision to ask Eden Hazard to track back so often at Chelsea.
The 27-year-old’s initial impact was one that warranted attention, as by the January of his first campaign he had recorded an impressive 10 assists in the Premier League.
Is this season the turning point after some recent indifferent form?
From that moment onwards it was downhill for Özil. He suffered several different injuries and was failing to make an impact on games.
The German was heavily criticised for his lack of energy and, at times, enthusiasm. The playmaker very rarely ran for the ball and simply wanted others to do the work on his behalf.
However it seems this season Özil has adopted a fresh mentality and, as a result, is making Arsenal look like serious title contenders.
Özil set a new league record becoming the first player to claim assists in six consecutive matches and said his teammates' growing maturity is the reason for his recent surge in form.
In the years where Manchester City and Chelsea won the league, both David Silva and Cesc Fabregas topped the assists table; Silva with 17, while Fabregas hauled in 19.
If Arsenal are to clinch a long overdue title, Özil will have to equal or even surpass these numbers. He certainly has the opportunity to do so with players like Alexis Sanchez and Oliver Giroud playing ahead of him.