For anyone who doubted the wisdom of Arsenal paying over £40 million for Mesut Özil back in September 2014, one glance at the assists table should provide ample evidence that the decision was the right one, especially if Arsenal go on and win their first Premier League title in over a decade.
Whilst the output from Özil and Alexis Sánchez is not dissimilar, it is the German providing the assists, whilst his Chilean teammate and Olivier Giroud are scoring most of Arsenal’s goals.
Looking at the data taken from the opening 15 league games of the season, Arsenal as a team averaged 44.9 attempts per game at creating a chance. Almost 18% of these attempts came from Özil and a slightly higher percentage (22.7%) were made by Sanchez.
Whilst both players converted the same percentage of their chance creation attempts (35%) into actual goal scoring chances, 49.6% of Ozil’s attempts came from passes, whilst over 69% of Sanchez’s chances were created by a dribble.
Özil reached slightly fewer goal scoring chances per game (2.1) than Sanchez, Giroud, Walcott and Ramsey; but when reaching a chance, the German attempted a shot on goal considerably less frequently (42%) than most of his teammates, instead preferring to improve the quality of the goal scoring chance (19.2%).
Özil is effective when delivering set pieces, with almost a quarter of his corner kicks rated as dangerous and with 13% finishing with a goal scoring chance. He is even more threatening when delivering free kicks, with 70% of his free kick crosses rated as dangerous and half leading to a direct goal scoring chance.
With Cazorla orchestrating the midfield and Özil and Sanchez pulling the strings, it’s no wonder that Arsenal have had such an effective opening third to the season.
With Cazorla now out injured for several months and Sanchez running on empty; the contribution from Mesut Özil will be even more critical if Arsenal are to achieve their ultimate target.