Arsenal came from a goal down to earn a convincing 3-1 win over Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night and Ozil, captaining the side from the start for the first time, produced a virtuoso performance from midfield.
The Germany international equalised with a classy finish from Hector Bellerin’s low cross on the stroke of half-time and then helped create both of substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals after the break as the Gunners carved Leicester open with fast, flowing football.
After the match Ozil hailed Arsenal’s performance as “sexy football” on Twitter, but Souness pointed out that the midfielder all too often fails to make such a stylish and decisive impact when the Gunners face more formidable opposition.
“When Arsenal are not dominating games he's absent,” Souness said of Ozil during the post-match analysis.
“With the utmost respect to Leicester these are not the games that you want to be judging them on. The big games that really matter, where the big players are the ones who make the difference to win you those games and I don't think in his career that he's done that enough times.
“His football was excellent, he's got a football brain and technique that few people have. He does go missing in games where Arsenal don't dominate the ball and in the big games I'd question if he's turned up.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher agreed with Souness, adding that Ozil has always possessed the talent to make a similar level of impact at Arsenal as Dennis Bergkamp.
“He's the big name player, he's signed a huge contract,” Carragher said. “I think early in Emery's reign he brought him off at Chelsea, he wasn't happy and we were critical of him after the game.
“It was looking early on in the season that Emery was not sure. This manager is not afraid to leave out the big name. Ozil gets the big bucks so you want the big performances and that was a huge performance.
“I think we've always looked at him in the big games but there's no doubt he's a special talent. I know there's Arsenal fans who think people like us have something against Mesut Ozil. It's not that, we want to see this. That is unbelievable. You want to see more of that, he's a World Cup winner.
“You always wondered when he came to Arsenal could he be that Bergkamp figure. That signing of Bergkamp revolutionised the club and took them to titles.
“I wouldn't say it's his fault but I thought he could be that player that takes Arsenal to that next level of the title, winning the Champions League. It hasn't quite happened really but there's no doubt at the end of his Arsenal career there'll be a highlights video of goals and assists that will take your breath away.”
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