Mesut Özil produced a moment of calmly-executed brilliance to see off Ludogorets and earn Arsenal a place in the Champions League knockout stages. With the match delicately poised and reaching the dying embers, the German reminded his few remaining critics of his remarkable gift with a football, scoring a goal of such quality it will be etched into the memories of football fans for years to come.
Latching onto a superb through ball by Mohamed Elneny, Özil showed confidence and composure, lifting the ball over the wayward goalkeeper. With the goal at his mercy, he had Arsenal fans willing him to put the ball into the unguarded net. Unfazed by the pressure of the occasion, Özil continued to wrong-foot both covering defenders, staggering them with two deceptive feints. Waiting for the opportune moment to land the killing blow, he calmly tapped home into an empty net. In one moment of individual genius, Özil demonstrated the brilliance that Arsenal broke their transfer record for in 2013.
Despite his plaudits, Özil receives criticism for lacking in consistency. The midfielder is commonly used as a scapegoat when Arsenal do not perform, but the truth lies in the reverse. Arsenal, as a team, do not perform when Özil does not. He is both the heartbeat and brain of his team, driving them forward with his vision and creativity.
His impressive season so far has coincided with Arsenal’s success, a fact only his most tenacious critics would consider coincidental. Özil has added goals to his game and elevated himself to a level capable of guiding any team to success. With seven goals in all competitions, the German has found an instinct for goal that he had previously lacked.
With difficult fixtures to come in a defining November for Arsenal, Özil has an opportunity to prove he is worthy of world class status by performing in the bigger matches. In his current form, few defences will manage to suppress his quality and doubters will have few grounds for reservation.