The impact on the club and the morale of the fans and players of the German international’s arrival in September is unrivalled probably since the arrival of Dennis Bergkamp in 1995 but in terms of the impact on the pitch and on the performance of the Gunners how does Ozil’s debut season in the Premier League compare to that of Santi Cazorla?
Last term the pundits and players waxed lyrical over the Spanish maestro – he scored 12 goals and made 12 assists in the Premier League last term but his overall play was at times mouth-watering.
In the league last term, Cazorla recorded an 86.8% pass completion rate; he averaged 3 shots per game, and was named Man of the Match no less than 10 times in the 2012/13 season with the Gunners.
He averaged 2.5 key passes per game, 2.3 successful dribbles, and was dispossessed on average just 1.7 times per game over the course of his 38 appearances of which 37 were starts.
This term, Cazorla has been utilized predominantly on the flanks by boss Arsene Wenger since the arrival of Ozil after being used as the attacking central playmaker as well as left winger last term to good effect.
This season Ozil has scored four goals and made 9 assists across his 21 appearances so far for Arsenal so he has a fair bit of catching up to achieve the productivity of Cazorla last term.
However, the Germany international has a higher 87.9% pass completion rate but so far he averages less than half the number of shots per game (1.2 on average) and has picked up three Man of the Match awards in the Premier League.
He does, meanwhile, complete more key passes per game than Cazorla (3 per game on average) and is dispossessed less often (1.5 times per game), but is less successful with his dribbling having averaged 1.7 dribbles per game so far.
Overall, the stats tell the story of a player with exceptional (and superior) passing and creative abilities but who is less comfortable taking on the opposition on his own, shooting on goal, and, overall, scoring goals.
Whilst Ozil has been a great signing for Arsenal so far, his influence on the pitch is less obvious than Cazorla’s influence on Arsenal’s goal difference at a glance.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald