2 chances, 92% pass accuracy: £42.5m Arsenal star thrives in central role

Mesut Ozil was restored to his central position against Aston Villa and responded with his best performance for some time.

Arsenal’s record signing Mesut Ozil has come under fierce criticism recently, but he delivered an excellent display after being restored to his favoured central role. It was by no means a world class 90 minutes, but a definite improvement, nonetheless.

The newly-crowned World Cup winner has looked badly out of form throughout the opening weeks of the new season, struggling to make impact on matches from the wide left position manager Arsene Wenger had been playing him in. However, all the negativity disappeared in the space of 79 seconds at Villa Park.

Wenger retained his faith in the German international and incorporated a significant tactical shift which put to use his creativity and intelligence in the number 10 role. With restored confidence, Ozil fired the Gunners in front on the half-hour mark, before teeing up deadline-day signing Danny Welbeck for his maiden strike just moments later.

  MatchGoalsTotal Scoring AttemptsAssistsChances CreatedPass Accuracy (%)DispossessedTouchesMins
Mesut Özil Aston Villa vs Arsenal 1 2 1 2 92.00 1 88 90

Incredibly, he was involved in as many goals in this game (two) as in his last 11 Premier League matches combined. He created two scoring opportunities in total, while completing 21 passes in the final third - more than any other player on the pitch. He also managed two attempts himself, converting 50% of his chances.

The 25-year-old recorded 88 touches; an astounding improvement compared to the mere 33 he accumulated on the left flank against Borussia Dortmund. He was dispossessed by the Villa defence just once and found success in 92% of his passes - a near-faultless performance. 

Wenger paid tribute to Ozil in his post-match interview, claiming that he had never been tempted to pull his £42.5 million club record signing capture out of the starting line-up, despite the evident dissatisfaction of supporters.

“I thought it had come to the point where we needed to show our confidence in him,” Wenger said. “So I never really thought about dropping him, we rested Alexis Sánchez instead because he has played a lot of games. We adapted the system slightly to play Özil in the middle and he responded very well."

"He prefers playing in the middle but I can find you about 10 other players in my squad who would say the same. It was not just his performance, the whole team played very well. It was the response we needed after Tuesday.”

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