Arsenal news: How Mesut Ozil is adding goals to his game for the Gunners

Change of mindset, change of team-mate and Wenger's demands are getting more goals out of German

Matt Gatward
Thursday 20 October 2016 14:49
Comments
Ozil scored a second half hat-trick to help fire Arsenal to a 6-0 victory at the Emirates
Ozil scored a second half hat-trick to help fire Arsenal to a 6-0 victory at the Emirates

When Santi Cazorla picked up the ball in midfield at The Emirates on Wednesday evening after Laurent Koscielny’s tackle, Mesut Ozil’s first instinct was to run along the line of the back four ready to spring forward to collect a pass over the top.

The German arced his return to perfection, timed when to go and had momentum on his side that took him clear of the Ludogrets defender. His first touch was sublime as he pushed Cazorla’s pitching-wedge pass forward before he scored the opening goal of the first hat-trick of his career. It was a centre forward’s goal.

Shortly after Ozil’s opener, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set Lucas Perez free down the left. The Spaniard’s cross was turned in at the back post by Ozil, again making the perfect striker’s run. On Saturday he scored a volley against Swansea having peeled off the last defender, playing on his shoulder.

Last season, upon Cazorla receiving possession for example, Ozil’s go-to motion may well have been to run towards the Spaniard and ask for the pass into his feet. “He likes to come to the ball,” as Arsene Wenger said of him in August 2015. Not so much now. Now he has a “taste” for goal.

The transformation is clear but subtle. Last season he was top of the Premier League assist charts with 19, six clear of second place but only scored eight times for Arsenal in total. This season he has six goals already – but no assists.

Mesut Ozil scores the second of his three goals in the 6-0 rout of Ludogorets

So does the new hunger for goals mean a complete change of mind-set in the German? In January, when asked if he should be scoring more, he countered: “I try to be as successful as possible in every single game – to win the match. It doesn't really matter if I’m scoring or assisting, as long as we win. I don’t think I will be doing myself any favours if I focus on scoring more or becoming more arrogant in front of goal and I certainly [won’t be helping] my team-mates.”

But Wenger has clearly encouraged him to get into more advanced positions.

“I want more goals from Mesut,” Wenger said at the start of last season, “because he plays in the position and he is a good finisher. But he doesn’t take enough chances when he is in a position where he can finish. He is conscious of it and wants to do it now. His main aspect will always be the intelligence of his passing, but we want 10 goals per season from him.”

Those words went somewhat unheeded last term. Wenger didn’t get his 10 – but he looks like he will this season. “He looks like he gets the taste to score goals because he goes more in behind [the defence],” Wenger said on Wednesday. “Before he liked only to come to the ball and provide. We want him to be a provider and a scorer. He looks like he is slowly moving to that better balance.”

Mesut Özil celebrates his second goal with Lucas Perez to put Arsenal 5-0 up

Another reason the German may be scoring more is the movement of Alexis Sanchez who has occupied the No 9 role this season. The Chilean is a whirlwind of activity, constantly dragging defenders this way and that creating space for Ozil to dash into. When Sanchez chipped in his lovely opening goal against Ludogrets, having made a run down the left flank, Ozil was waiting at the back post, in the space vacated by the striker, had the Chilean crossed.

The more lumpen Olivier Giroud, who played at the top of the Arsenal formation last season, is less mobile, less likely to create space by dragging defenders around with his movement. The Frenchman is more of a back-to-goal, hold-up striker. As a result the majority of Ozil’s few goals last season came when he made Frank Lampardesque late runs into the box (think of his strike against Manchester United when he arrived to turn in Theo Walcott’s pass) rather than sprinting on to through balls.

The altered mindset, Wenger’s constant encouragement and a change of personnel have all played a part in Ozil shooting up the scoring charts. Now to remember the assists.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in