Oezil emerges from sickbed to inspire Arsenal victory

Mesut Oezil.
Mesut Oezil.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger heralded Mesut Oezil after the German playmaker rose from his sickbed to inspire his team to victory over Manchester City.

Oezil teed up first-half goals for Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud at the Emirates Stadium on Monday as Arsenal secured a 2-1 win.

The German now has 15 assists for the campaign - just three fewer than Cesc Fabregas' league-leading tally from last season - and Wenger revealed afterwards that the midfielder had spent most of the previous week in bed.

"He had a chest infection for the week and he was in bed," said the Frenchman. "He had only one training session yesterday. So for a guy who could not prepare well, he has done extremely well physically."

  • MESUT MAGIC

  • 15

    The number of assists Mesut Oezil has in the Premier League this season. This is eight more than any other player and more than 12 entire teams, including Manchester United (12) and Chelsea (11).

    20

    The EPL season record for assists, set by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry in 2002-03. Oezil has 21 more games to eclipse that mark.

    5

    Only five players have ever managed more than 15 assists in an EPL season.

    101

    The number of assists Oezil has since August 2008. No player in Europe's top-five leagues has more, with Barcelona's Lionel Messi on 100.

    80.5

    The average minutes that pass before Oezil is involved in a goal. That ranks the German, scorer of two goals this term, second in the league.

Despite Oezil's role in the build-up, Walcott's goal was primarily his own work, the England forward cutting inside his man from the left and curling a glorious right-foot shot inside the right- hand post from 20 metres.

But the assist for Giroud's goal, in first-half stoppage time, was vintage Oezil.

The former Real Madrid man slid a pass into the path of the Arsenal centre-forward, who drilled a low shot between Joe Hart's legs.

"At the end of the day you need one guy who gives the ball to the one who scores the goal," Wenger told his post-game press conference. "In our team, most of the time, Oezil is this player. The guys who make you win. And he is that."

A creator Oezil might be but he also put in the hard metres on Monday, constantly tracking back and staying disciplined. The Man of the Match covered 9.86km, making 55 sprints.

Walcott believes Oezil makes life easier for his team-mates.

"The thing about Mesut is that he sees things that most players don't even see on the pitch. You just have to make that run," he said.

"We've got special players on the pitch who provide special moments in the match, and that makes our jobs so much easier.

"The amount he gives to this team, the threat going forward and also defensively, he puts a shift in and people don't see that side of the game which has changed in the whole squad."

Oezil has helped Germany lift the World Cup and believes he can win more silverware this season if Arsenal can play to their abilities.

"We believe in ourselves. If you see the games against the big clubs, we won against them so we know our quality, if we play our game we can win the league," he told reporters after the game. "We will give our best all through the season for the title."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2015, with the headline 'Oezil emerges from sickbed to inspire Arsenal victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe