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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Ozil shows what a £40m player should do - Arsenal 4 - 1 Liverpool

At last!

One of my biggest criticisms of Mesut Ozil has been that he doesn't do the things that excite a supporter. As a £40m player I want him to get me off my seat, to do something extraordinary. You can quote his stats for pass completion, or for the amount of ground he covers, but that means very little to me. David Batty ran all over the place and never gave the ball away, Mikel Arteta never gives the ball away, but they didn't cost £40m. I realise that comparison is probably slightly unfair on Ozil, but I use it to illustrate my point. There have been flashes of brilliance from Ozil such as his goal against Napoli last season, and the pass to Flamini to set up his goal at Cardiff. Those are the touches of genius that mark him out as a special player. A World Class player. We haven't seen enough of that since he arrived. Yesterday he showed how good he is. He showed why you pay that sort of money to bring in a top player.
The first piece of Ozil magic has been overlooked slightly because of the great play from Bellerin to put the ball in to the net. I should say at this point that I missed the game yesterday through work, and that I've only seen the highlights on Match Of The Day and on Arsenal Player. If you get the chance to see it again then please take the time to appreciate the pass from Ozil to Aaron Ramsey. That pass was so good as to have been worth paying to see the game on its own. There are not many players in the English game that could have picked that pass, with such precision, knowing that it was going to take out the entire Liverpool midfield and half of their defence. I can not speak highly enough of the quality involved in the execution of that 40 or 50 yard pass to feet. For Bellerin to then go on, beat a couple of men in the area, and curl the ball in to the corner was the icing on the cake. The improvement in the play of that young man since he started the game at Dortmund earlier this season is unbelievable.
The second Ozil genius moment was the second goal. Before we even get to the free-kick we need to appreciate the way he took control of a ball that was fired in to him, one touch to control and another as the ball rolled across him to keep it moving to the right. He was then clattered from behind, but it was his own skill that drew in the defender who just wasn't quick enough to deal with Ozil's ability on the ball. Then there is the free-kick itself. I can see that people might want to say Mignolet should have done better as he's supposed to be that side etc, but just look at the precision, and the whip that Ozil has on the ball. When I talk about £40m players needing to do things that excite and thrill the supporters then this is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. I've written Ozil off as a flop in English football. If he goes and proves me wrong now I'll be one very happy Gooner.
The third goal was another cracker, or course. And again there's an overlooked bit of quality even before Alexis smashed it in. Arsenal gained possession when Coquelin (how good is he?) pressured the ball and it came for Bellerin. He then smashed a pass towards Aaron Ramsey who controlled the ball and turned on it all in one move. It was something that few other British players could do because they lack technique. The ball was really hit hard at Ramsey, yet he was able to kill it to exactly where he wanted it to be. In doing so he opened up the pass that he found for Alexis. The little man simply stepped inside Kolo Toure and unleashed a Chilean missile that was past Mignolet before he could move. Arsenal's two most expensive ever signings were putting on the big show. Poor old Kolo, meanwhile, really started to look his age, whatever that might be. It's a shame to see an Arsenal great looking like that.
That three goal burst in eight minutes was amazing. In truth we could (should) have been a couple of goals up early on, and then pegged back as Liverpool missed a couple of chances. As it was we had pretty much put the game to bed before half-time. As is often the way with Arsenal the second-half was much quieter.
Liverpool got a goal back, of course, and that could have proved to be costly. I think the penalty decision was right. Some might argue that Sterling had lost control of the ball, or that he was going down before Bellerin got there, but I don't think you could complain. He caught Sterling late and that's that. If it had been at the other end and not been given we'd have going absolutely crazy about it. Having already been booked I can't really see why Bellerin stayed on the pitch - it was a yellow card foul in its own right, but Antony Taylor is probably the worst referee I've ever seen. Ospina ought to have saved the weak penalty from Henderson - having got a hand on it he should have been able to push it away from goal. I wonder if his lack of height prevented him getting enough on the ball.
Arsenal weren't finished of course. Can picked up a deserved second yellow for an awful foul on Danny Welbeck. Rodgers claiming that it was a slippery pitch was embarrassing. From there on the win was never in doubt. The move that ended with Santi Cazorla hitting the post was a joy. And then Olivier Giroud put the crowning glory on a great Arsenal display with a superb goal of his own. Giroud really has been superb this season. Having missed three months out with injury his goals tally is exceptional. Leaving aside the Monaco game (the most bizarre aberration considering his form) he has probably been the best centre-forward in the country since Christmas along with Harry Kane (who skippered that Mickey Mouse lot today!) He has also been scoring goals against the better teams which is something he seemed unable to do in the past. I hope he can keep it up.
All in all it was an Easter celebration to enjoy for us Gooners. Unfortunately for me I was unable to be there because of my job. It's rare to dispatch a big club in such a way as we did yesterday which makes me even more gutted to have missed it. Despite that, if Arsenal are winning then I'm more than happy, whether I'm there to see it or not. Hopefully a strong U21 team will take the field against Stoke on Tuesday for a game that I am going to be able to go to.

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