Wenger runs rule over Cazorla and Ozil


Arsene Wenger says he’s pleased to have Santi Cazorla back to his best after an injury-hit start to the campaign took its toll on the Spaniard’s magical ambidextrous kicking powers.

The 29-year-old was the Gunners standout player in the 2-0 victory over Fulham topping off his energetic and impish performance with his first brace of the new campaign.

Now with four goals to his name, including three in the last three games, Wenger believes the Spanish international has finally unshackled himself from a lingering ankle problem.

“Santi got two and that is a sign he is coming back to his level because for a big part of the season he had some injury problems,” the boss told Arsenal Player.

“Since mid-December he has been coming back to his best. He was injured for a while, after that he had an ankle problem for a period and couldn’t hit the ball properly with his right foot.

“Santi is about using two legs, you don’t know really if he is right or left footed and once he cannot do that as freely as he is used to he has a handicap. He had that for a long time this season.”

The boss also took the time to talk about Mesut Ozil’s influence on games stressing that the German’s subtle style is more important than people give him credit for.

Having signed for £42.5 million in the summer there has been criticism from certain quarters that the 25-year-old hasn’t been winning games singlehandedly for Arsenal.

Accepting there’s more to come from his record-capture, the boss underlined that the midfielder’s style helps wear down opponents.

“Sometimes people expect him to make the difference alone,” he told Arsenal Player.

“Sometimes when it doesn’t work you expect him to take the ball and put it in the net. He is more a passer than a finisher.

“[Goalscoring] is one of the things he can add to his game for sure. It doesn’t need to be criticised, it needs to be encouraged.

“I think as well that the consistency of the quality of his passing slowly drains the opponent as he passes always the ball when you do not want him to do it. That slowly [allows] us to take over.

“He is 25, he can only get better. The best years are coming for him now.”


  1. Really don’t understand fans slating Ozil, he’s a superstar. Really good player who is playing brilliantly, in my opinion, and there is still certainly more to come. Having Santi, Ramsey, Wilshere and Ozil in Midfield makes my mouth water.

    Having said that, he’s not much of a goal-scorer (nor is he expected to be!), so it’s good that Santi is getting his shooting boots back on. He could be the difference this season if he gets us 10-15 goals.

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    • I think for 42.5M he should be scoring at least 2 goals per game and providing 3 assists. including 2 to himself. MINIMUM. Can’t believe we wasted so much money on him. We should be top of the league after spending that amount of money…………..oh wait

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    • I think it comes down to people still having images of Cesc in their mind and basically expecting Özil to be exactly like Cesc when they are vastly different player types and probably the only thing in common they have is that they play in the same position (and even that has changed as Cesc has been playing as a false 9 for the last couple of years).

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    • Obviously there have been some unserious critiques aimed towards Özil that are rightly being ridiculed by the majority of the fans. That being said, the opposite ever-loving position that is taken by several fans, including some on this site, where every single critique point – regardless of its constructive nature – is being labeled as ‘immature comments from wannabe-fans’… Well, that’s pointless as well.

      Both Wenger and Özil know that there have been a dip in form. But just as well as Wenger knows best how to deal with that situation, criticism from fans should be welcomed as long as it comes from a constructive point of departure. That is ALSO what football is about.

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      • Respectfully Disagree!

        Constructive criticism is good but it has to be evidence and data based.Just cant criticize a player because you did not find him running like crazy or shooting randomly(like Giroud and Gnabry). He is a play maker,always has been and always will be.

        Lets talk about the latest Fulham game, According to Squawka,Ozil created 3 chances(excluding corners, joint top with Cazorla),Completed 87% of his attemped 94 passes ( 2nd highest passes attempted). Also if you go back and watch the game,Ozil played deeper than usual (Fulham had kinda parked the bus). This enabled other Arsenal players to push up and utilize the small pockets of space in the final attacking 3rd.

        Ozil is one of the most subtle and unselfish players. It is so refreshing that such a technically creative and gifted player puts his team always first.It would be unfair to simply apply the athletic/running style of English play as a metric to judge him.

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  2. “His passes slowly drain players” – a quite unusual but great analysis. Ozil pulls the strings in midfield, it’s just unfortunate pundits and journos are too dumb to see that. Most chances created in Europe this season is all I’m saying.

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  3. I’ve always liked Mesut (since his Real Madrid’s days), I believe some of the gooners out there are expecting a world-beater in Ozil, but that has never been his main focus. I like to regard Santi as a game changer — someone who likes to attack the ball and entertain the crowd with his dazzling dribbling skills. Ozil, on the other hand, is like a lubricant to the Arsenal engine — he does nothing fancy, and makes every pass seem effortless — but don’t expect him to make an audacious volley every game, his effort lies in making the whole team better.

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    • Yes, I agree. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Ozil has never been as prolific a goalscorer as folks are expecting. I think he’s a 10 goals a season guy.

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  4. VT, I lost you at lubricant 😀 In all seriousness if people expect Ozil to score every game and have two assists in addition to bringing world peace, you are wrong. He is a team player that creates numerous chances for others and will take his if he’s sure he’ll score. Bottomline, he’s a creator/orchestrator and if Ramsey is anything to go by, once Ozil adds goals to his game, my oh my..

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  5. Ozil is the oil in the midfield machine. He makes everything run smoother. You might not always notice him but you will notice over time if your machine is running low or without oil. Also, his name is just one letter away from “oil”, this completely justifies my analogy.

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    • I actually think ozil showed his commitment and efforts in all the games he had played for us so far. If “put more effort” means someone that appears to be always busy and high energy, then ozil will never meet the expectations. He is a different type, intelligent and make playing the game an effortless affair. He will be better and reach his optimal capacity, once he get really settled and acclimatised to the culture and english football.

      Also, “abilityto use both feets” doesn’t always mean the player is better than one who is not. Based on that maradona can never be considered as a great player. Don’t get me wrong, i love santi and i’m amazed by this strength of his. But ozil’s left foot is enough to make him brilliant.

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    • I would suggest you to pay special attention to Ozil’s movement around the pitch. He is a little bit like Fabregas in which he always position himself well to receive the ball (thus providing a choice for the passer, or as a distraction to defenders).

      When we were defending, don’t always focus on the HFB’s lung-busting, 60-yard-come-from-behind-recovery-tackles. Ozil’s always there to slow the opposition down for a second or two to let defenders resume their positions.

      Tactical-wise, Ozil’s presence just make everyone in the team have a slightly easier game to play.

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    • I’ll admit that I did expect Ozil to have a bit more flair, and I’ll blame the youtube highlights thank you very much. In all seriousness, his through balls are pure genius, and directly in the case of AVFC, we might have seriously lost without that beautifully weighted ball to Monreal to get the goal and the flow our way. It wasn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.

      It all happens so quickly, but to sum it up in numbers, but with 16 goals and 35 assists at his arguably best season at real madrid (complete with years of first team football to settle there), and 9 goals and 13 assists for us halfway through the season, it can be fair to say that Ozil has put us on top of the league. The goals and assists might have come from elsewhere in just pure numbers, but match after match the guy has been putting quality and at the perfect time.

      I fell in love with Arsenal when I saw the mesmerizing counters by the Invincibles, and part of it was the soaring belief that once the move started from our end of the pitch, inevitably it would end in the other side’s goal. It’s not quite the same as before, but we’ve had players in the past who gave us that same belief on the pitch. With the team being more cohesive, Ozil making those mesmerizing passes that just makes the goal seem inevitable, Cazorla and his dribbles and runs, I can’t help but feel that what we are watching has finally become a true Arsenal side under Wenger’s reign.

      I love Ozil.

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      • 4 Goals in the league, I’m aware, but I think it’s silly to discount his other goals for this season whether they are for us or not.

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      • such short memories… Rambo is the primary reason we’re sitting aloft the PL… he has been the standout player since last January when he was shifted to the center of midfield… Ozil is just the cherry on top of Rambo’s icing…

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        • You can have more than one outstanding player. No one is saying anything bad about Rambo, but what he and Ozil does are very different. To say that one is better than the other is kind of irrelevant when they contribute together.

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        • Ramsey is great, yes. But to say he is the sole reason is daft. He has been a large contribution, as has Ozil. Both play for Arsenal in different positions, the bickering over who is better is moot.

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        • Certainly they were not all for us – passion of the moment. But he also certainly he scored 9 Goals, 13 Assists this playing season; some for Germany, and 1 of each for Madrid in the champion’s cup.

          For the record, if people are unsure due to my comments, for Arsenal, Ozil’s has scored 5 goals, and made 9 assists this season.


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  8. 16 PL games left. If he can get 10 goals for himself and the other players keep their levels.. I can see the PL trophy coming to Ashburton Grove

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  9. Silly me, but when ozil was signed i came up with a question that states “which would you rather have between two cazorla’s and two ozil’s” for me, I still stand by my choice at the start of the season which is “two cazorla’s” I just think with two cazorla’s in our team we would be invincible. Anyway no two cazorla’s just my fantasy thought playing tricks on me, so I’m quite happy with a little bit of ozil and cazorla

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    • Having Cazorla with two good feet is like having two Carzorlas with one bad foot. So… so I don’t know where I’m going with this but I’m glad he’s back to full fitness anyway.

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  10. Ozil is great no doubt about it, but can be even better by adding goals to his game. If there was ever a man to get the best out of a player it is Arsene. We still have yet to see the best from Mesut and I’m looking forward to that greatly.

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  11. Well the thing with Ozil is he was extremely successful at madrid was because he I sed to feed the likes of ronaldo,di maria, benzema abd higuain. All these players can outrun defenders easily. So there’s the option for delicious through balls. While at arsenal we play more of passing game. Only player capable of getting behind the defending line is injured. Giroud is good but We need someone with pace. We all know it.

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    • Gnabry and the Ox should be able to fill in for some time in terms of raw pace – and looking at Gnabry’s potential against Fulham was incredible. His shots might need work, but more importantly, they all came from dangerous positions and his movement had clear intentions. Hard to imagine he’s only 18, and with the guidance of movement and passing from the likes of Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere, etc., we can only imagine what a threat he will be. Maybe its too early for this season for him to make an impact, but then again that’s an assessment we make with the average development of players.

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  12. I agree with the last point, Giroud is just as likely to be used as a hold-up player for one of our midfielders to score than score one himself. Ozil’s influence isn’t going to be as telling without a Theo type player to run behind a defensive line.

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  13. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Ozil is being double or even triple marked by most opposition this season. Like when he found 3 players surrounding him right after receiving the ball just past the halfway line against Fulham. He took a touch and dispatched it to a teammate immediately. Imagine the space he freed up for the others right there. And not exactly an easy thing to do either.

    I guess people just aren’t happy that he didn’t turn them all inside out, dance around them then knock the ball over the line with his head.

    …though I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

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  14. Ozil doesn’t just make us tick, if the chances he creates is any indicator. I do think he suffers from a lack of options and movement up top as well; sometimes he looks like he is part of a two with Giroud instead of having three options to pass too, not including overlapping fullbacks. I would agree that the space he creates with his movement and passes allows other players to express themselves more, but there is a lot more to his game than that. We just haven’t been able to exploit it yet, mostly due to personnel and tactics.

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  15. I never expected Özil to be a match winner or an impact player. He is brilliant in his simplicity, and as a result he’s simply brilliant. As a few of you have said, if we went a few games without him we would realise how much we miss him, and it’s no coincidence that this team has gone from one of our worst to one of our best sides in years since he’s joined.
    What I would like to see from him, which we often see from Cazorla, is a bit more urgency. Being as laconic as he is does not help him at times, especially in the big games, and there have been a few times this season where promising breakaways have been slowed by his inaction. other than that he’s the closest we’ve had to genius since Bergkamp.

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  16. Özil has an amazing goal scoring record for Germany. It’s just a matter of time before he’s scoring. It’s his 1st season,give the boy a break. He is a superstar and like Wenger said “he has his best years ahead of him” it’s incredible that he will be wearing an Arsenal shirt whilst he’s playing the best football of his entire career….COYG

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  17. I love both. Who is better? each is better in his own way. Take stats – how many successful pass has Carzola made? How about Ozil? Who has had more blind passes than the other? Whose blind passes have been deadly to the team as a whole? While Carzola may make a dangerous poor pass, he has the work rate to make up for his mistake. While Ozil may not have that high energy, he rarely makes that poor pass. Conclusion: both are better in their own style and much needed in the team

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  18. And oh how forgetful people are. When ramsey is healthy, the way he connects with ozil is jizzworthy. Ramsey has really stepped up his instinct, this is evident and I think he is the perfect match up to ozil. I can’t wait to see our welsh jesus back, I really can’t. And to think how our chelsea game could have ended with his influence… drools

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  19. We have a lack of options up front which hinders Ozil somewhat, so rather than an assist to his name, he has to feed it to other midfielders who themselves are often getting assists. We need at least one new striker. It would be interesting to see the statistics regarding – a) how many assists does he have which have not resulted in a goal, b) how many passes has he played which have resulted in an assist (goal scoring and non-goalscoring. These statistics will show you that he is doing his job, it is the final piece of the puzzle which is missing.

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    • Technically an assist is a pass or a cross that leads directly to a goal. What you’re talking about is more of a “chances created”. But I absolutely agree, I would also love to see those stats. And I’d bet Cazorla’s bad foot that Ozil is top of those stats.

      (I bet nothing, Cazorla has no bad foot. Hah!)

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  20. When I’m asked by my non-Gooner friends what Özil have done good for the team this year, and then proceed to criticise (Is that the right spelling at all? I’m Norwegian, I don’t know this) him for not scoring and possessing the ball 80% of the time we’ve got it, I just say that he’s more of a behind-the-scenes-type of player, which I think he is. He works the magic behind the scenes, and Giroud, Cazorla, Jack, Theo etc. work the “visible” football.

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  21. Wenger is a genius i swear, despite praising Ozils influence on the game he is also urging him to try and add more goals to his name.

    Subtle yet Genius.

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  22. Özil has created 61 goal scoring chances this season, more than anyone else from the top 5 leagues. that just speaks for itself really.

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  23. Özil has been fabulous for me. Would I like a bit more with his price tag? Sure, but the purpose of purchasing a player is not for him to come and individually shine. It’s for him to come, fit well in the team without a hitch, and improve us. Now answer me this blogs readers, how’s the latter of that worked out? Pretty damn well if you ask me. The man is just blessed with extreme footballing I.Q. Look at his late game antics at west ham, time killing, corner poaching. Watch when he breaks on a run and it’s him vs three opponents, he approaches, slows, waits for an option, slips a ball and were off. I’m just regurgitating what everybody else is saying. My point being he was added, were top of the league, team spirit is at an all time high. Please, someone convince me your dissappointed with his addition, I’m all ears.

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    • True. I thought he was amazing with wasting time towards the end. It’s an underrated skill that we haven’t been able to exploit over the years.

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  24. I think people are being a bit unkind to Ozil by saying he needs players around him like he had at Madrid, e.g. fast wide men. Ozil is technically brilliant and a highly intelligent player, he can adapt to playing in any team with any players. The fact is he came and fitted perfectly into our team, and we play quite differently from RM, and so to does the German team, where he also excels. Give him little bit time to really adapt and he’ll be as good or better than he was at Real Madrid.

    Now I’m all for homoerotically enthusiastic praise of Wenger, but can someone explain to me what he means when he says “He passes always the ball when you do not want him to do”?

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    • I think that 42.5 provided the assist for our first goal that day.

      But sure, blame the whole thing on him. It’s not like football is a team game, right?

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    • And its not as if we are the only team to have our asses handed to us at Middle Eastlands… At the end of the day the 6 part of that result is because, no matter how much I hate to admit it, the Citeh strikeforce are quite good!

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    • Watch the game again and pay a little more attention this time!

      Arsenal lost the game primarily because of defensive errors.On the contrary Arsenal’s attacking play was quite good.Some stats for you from that game.

      1. Arsenal had 6 shots on goal compared to Man City’s 7.Man city took their chances ,Arsenal did not.
      2. Ozil personally created 2 chances ,one resulting in a goal.
      3. The assist for the second goal that Theo scored was provided by Ramsey but go and watch Ozil’s pass to Ramsey before that assist.

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    • Because, if you were watching the same game I was, we created many chances and had 2 goals disallowed unfairly, and a penalty decision which was a clear penalty not given our way. The 6 goals came because we were a shambles at the back while missing Koscielny. We had no protection on our back line. We invited them onto us and did not break up the play, allowing Toure to charge through the middle and Ca$hri space to run in between the defenders. Flamini was non existent. This match proved that we needed a strong hard ass in the middle to break up play and we still do.

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  25. By the way, Ramsey’s mercurial performance is the main reason we are on top. 42.5m has not……. Fill in the gap. Not ready to be punched by the 42.5m mob

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    • Don’t get me wrong, Ramsey has played a crucial part in our season. No one with any semblance of sanity can deny that. But don’t you think 61 chances created, which is the most for any player in the top 5 leagues, counts for something?

      The next time you watch him play, try to keep an eye on him even when he’s off the ball. Notice the way he moves into empty space and is always an option for any other player on the ball, especially in the crucial opposition final third. Yes, he often lays the ball off for a simple pass to someone near him. And very often, his through balls aren’t quite splitting defences. But because of his positioning and movement, he opens up a tremendous amount of space for those around him.

      Once he gels with the others in terms of rhythm, and with the league in terms of pace and physicality, his control of the game will be more obvious. But even now, his contributions are significant to the way this current Arsenal team plays.

      May the 42.5m mob grow stronger with every game.

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  26. This Ozil thing is very interesting, he has played a handful of games for us and done ok. The reason I say interesting is because when Helb was making space by not moving and giving pre assists people called him rubbish. Ozil does it and he’s a genius. I know I am going to get thumbed down for this as this is the way it goes on this site these days. All I am trying to say is lets not go over board one way or the other, he is still finding out about his team mates and vice versa.

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  27. Ozil is good and he’s got quality in his legs. If u understand the present squad this arsenal side possesses then fans may begin to commend ozil’s complimenting features rather than condemn the good he has brought. We can boast of one of the finest midfield plays in England and Europe courtesy of his pedigree. He may not be your very fast and prolific player but i think his intelligence and sensational passing attribute has given us an edge over what we used to. He will gel superbly into this arsenal side and everyone will understand that Mesut Ozil is a Maestro. Wenger’s philosophy brings out the best in his kind.

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  28. I admire ozil since he was playing with Bremen under Thomas schaff..I think he play differently with arsenal becoz of few reasons..1) he was upset when Madrid let him go, he was so upset n feel downgraded..2) he need to adapt with the new style of play with arsenal where there were no ronaldo,khedira, higuain..3) he needs to protect himself from injury before world cup in Brazil..BTW,he had 7 assists just behind Rooney in the chart..not bad in his debut season.

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  29. Ozil his a great player .he gave every player a boots when he came and put every one into a new gear with the fast passing and move mont . He helps every one on the pitch to get in great place and he scare other player when they come near him cause they don’t know what kind off move he going to do . He has help us get where we are today and he only going to get better he still young and he got more to give as well . So no one should moan about him as he doing the best job

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  30. I am glad to read mostly positive comnents in regards to Ozil.Watching him this season he has real genius quality and he is always involved drawing opponents to him as they know he will cause damage. Wait for Poldolski to get back to fitness and I sense magic. Santi can play on the right. Then there is ox, Gnabry, Jack, Rosiky & Ramsey. This is some serious team and in my opinion can stick the trophy up the doubters arses. This is a good time to be a gunner.

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  31. Media blabbering on about where our goals will come from since Walcott (who hadn’t featured terribly much all season) got knocked.

    Someone will always step up and our goals are coming from everywhere. I think its fair to say just about every member of the team (that has been fit) has weighed in with a goal this season.

    Ramsey got knocked and Jack is stepping up. Walcott out? Santi back and Podolski. Ramsey is also coming back in. Giroud (for all the media like to laud Negredo) has nabbed 9 goals in the league this season (similar to the Spaniard), reasonable enough return.

    If anything, this season serves to illustrate our depth in the middle. Possibly one of the main reasons why we are still top of the league is because our engine room has been able to rotate efficiently this season due to the availability of assets. In that having Ozil, Santi and Rosicky with their intelligence and creativity has been our trump card.

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  32. Don’t forget: Mesut Özil has been with the Arsenal only since September. No pre-season, and he even missed the first 5 matches of this season. I was astonished at how quickly he looked at home in the red-and-white, and how easily he slotted in to the Arsenal style.

    But Mesut had to land on his feet, and start running before he could even get to know his team-mates. Remember, the same was true of Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta when they joined the club 2 years ago, and Per has said how difficult it was without a pre-season to settle in. Look how he’s progressed, since the criticism he faced during his first season. In midfield it’s particularly important to get to know your team-mates. When you know what they’re going to do, you can find them that much quicker and more reliably. He’s doing incredibly well, and I can’t imagine what he could be at 27 or 28 after, say, 3 years as a Gunner.

    I’m already a huge fan.

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    • This is THE comment of this entire thread. We have some serious talent together, who are in it for Arsene, for the Arsenal badge, and for us. That is a first in a long time. It is an amazing time to be a Gooner, trophy at the end of the season or not.

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  33. Cazorla is better than Cazorla. he is not getting the plaudits he deserves and his performances have been under the radar as much attention is fixed to the £42.5M guy and i don’t mind it as long as Cazorla continues to dazzle.

    Ramsey, Cazorla, rosicky, Ozil in that order for me.

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  34. Santi is two footed. Why not try him on the right with Poldi on the left and Mesut in the middle?

    My reason for this is that at times we just need to shoot! Poldi can let fly from the left and Santi from the right.

    Not dissing Ox or Gnabry (who has done really well)…just think we would have more of a goal threat.

    And goals are good, aren’t they?

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    • Yes please… Arsene y u want to kick poldi out eh?… why.. u no likey the cannon left foot eh?? why u no play him eh??

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