Arsenal host Liverpool later today, Saturday, at the Emirates Stadium and while the stakes of top spot in the Premier League are high, the match also features a further intriguing plot-line with the central characters being two of the most technically skilled footballers in the country, two of the division's marquee names, two of the top performers on current form and two amongst the highest valued according to transfermarkt.co.uk.
Whoever is able to dictate their team's attack, whoever has the greater game will likely end up on the winning side so, out of Arsenal's playmaking wizard Mesut Ozil and Liverpool's prolific and fast forward Luis Suarez, who will perform to the highest standard?
The case for Mesut Ozil
Mesut is a master passer with an 86% accuracy from his 418 attempted passes, he is under-rated in the defensive part of the game (as credited by Arsene Wenger), is strong in the duel, wins 45% of his tackles, is rarely off target with his shooting (only one attempt has been wide of the goal frame, is a good crosser of the football, a prolific chance creator (21) and has been responsible for five goals (three assists, two goals).
Ozil has also forged a good partnership and understanding with Olivier Giroud, is very much a team player, and his integration into the Arsenal team has been instantaneous. Ozil is a rare gem of a player and his employers are particularly fortunate to have a: been able to exploit Real Madrid's willingness to sell and b: secure him at the expense of other team's allegedly interested.
His positional sense and ability to read a game belies even that of an elite-level player and so should have the nous to place himself out of a potentially congested Liverpool midfield and into the spaces left vacated by a three-man defence.
The case for Luis Suarez
This guy… hey, this guy. Say what you want about Suarez but the man could gets headlines on his days off. In just 359 minutes of Premier League football - or four appearances - Suarez has been nothing short of awesome and, in this columnists opinion (published here), must be mentioned in the same breath as Barcelona's ethereal attacker Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's all-powerful Cristiano Ronaldo.
Suarez has a work-rate that is fully befitting of English football culture, he cares not who he is up against and just plays his game, he is a prolific chance creator (9) and an even more prolific shot-taker (20, 60% of which hit the target), he has, thus far this season, been responsible for seven goals (six goals and one assist).
Rodgers' tactical and formation shift to a 3-5-2 with a wing-back system was largely set-up to accommodate two form strikers in Suarez and Sturridge (SAS) and, between them, they have been responsible for 14 of the club's 17 goals. If Arsenal can't dominate the midfield and nullify the Liverpool strike partnership's supply, then the pair - and Suarez in particular - could, and most likely would, run rampant.
Who do you think will have the better game, Ozil or Suarez? If one is quiet will their team suffer and lose the game? Let us know in the comment section below!
image: © Ronnie Macdonald