It was in the midst of researching for another article that I came across a fascinating statistic. In January, while Santi Cazorla shone and Mesut Ozil faltered, another Arsenal midfielder proved vital to the cause - outshining the former Real Madrid play-maker in many of the areas he is famous for excelling in.
Jack Wilshere scored more goals than Ozil, provided more assists, played more key passes, more accurate through-balls and more accurate passes. In short, the 22-year-old England international out-Ozil'd Ozil.
As you can see from the table below, both players made three league appearances last month, with Wilshere playing only four minutes more than his teammate. And yet while Ozil was signed - at considerable expense - to score, create and set the tempo, it is Wilshere who has outdone him.
|Player||Goals||Goal Assist||Key Passes||Accurate Through Ball||Accurate Pass||Apps||Mins|
Ozil was always going to need time to settle at the Emirates Stadium. That he started his Arsenal career in such impressive form only to tail off slightly should be no surprise. He is getting used to a new country, a new climate and a festive period considerably different to the one he would have experienced in both Spain and Germany. He is also recovering from injury.
But this is not a critique of the German international. It is a piece in praise of the young man who has stepped up and shown that anything Ozil can do, he can do, too...or at least try to.
If Wilshere can get over his own injury problems, he will play a vital role in what remains of the Gunners' campaign. And if both he and Ozil can start performing to their very best between now and May, the club may get their hands on that trophy they have been waiting so long to reclaim.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald