International Champions Cup Singapore 2018

Football: Mesut Ozil the conductor for Arsenal orchestra as Gunners rout PSG 5-1

From top: PSG goalkeeper Sebastien Cibois is helpless as he watches Rob Holding's looping header sail into the net during the 5-1 ICC defeat by Arsenal at the National Stadium last night. Arsenal's captain for the night Mesut Ozil enjoying his M10 ce
Arsenal's captain for the night Mesut Ozil enjoying his M10 celebration - in tribute to his young niece - after opening the scoring.PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI
From top: PSG goalkeeper Sebastien Cibois is helpless as he watches Rob Holding's looping header sail into the net during the 5-1 ICC defeat by Arsenal at the National Stadium last night. Arsenal's captain for the night Mesut Ozil enjoying his M10 ce
PSG goalkeeper Sebastien Cibois is helpless as he watches Rob Holding's looping header sail into the net during the 5-1 ICC defeat by Arsenal at the National Stadium last night. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES FOR ICC
From top: PSG goalkeeper Sebastien Cibois is helpless as he watches Rob Holding's looping header sail into the net during the 5-1 ICC defeat by Arsenal at the National Stadium last night. Arsenal's captain for the night Mesut Ozil enjoying his M10 ce
Singapore's Olympic gold medallist and Chelsea fan Joseph Schooling with best friend and Arsenal fan Teo Zhen Ren.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES FOR ICC

Playmaker the centrepiece in orchestra as Arsenal rout PSG in front of over 50,000 fans

Given the armband, sparking off a 5-1 rout of Paris Saint-Germain and praised for his display, Mesut Ozil walked past the waiting media at the National Stadium.

Stone-faced, he did not stop to give any soundbites and headed straight towards PSG's Julian Draxler and hugged his now former Germany international colleague.

Known for his disdain of the media and driven to international retirement after perceived racism from the German Football Association and negative public reaction to his World Cup performances, the Arsenal star remains an enigma within an enigma, even as he lit up Kallang in the International Champions Cup (ICC) match last night.

But, within the cocoon of the Gunners' squad, Ozil, who has Turkish roots, is protected from the intense public glare. He did not give any media interviews in Singapore which allowed him to focus on playmaking and scoring goals. And score he did.

It took Arsenal just 13 minutes to open the scoring, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan splitting PSG open with a through pass for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to square for Ozil to tap home.

Although PSG equalised in the 58th minute from a Christopher Nkunku penalty, a brace from striker Alexandre Lacazette (67th and 71st minutes), a powerful looping header from defender Rob Holding (87th) and a fine finish from 19-year-old English forward Eddie Nketiah in stoppage time buried the French champions.

While it was an excellent team display, the majority of the 50,308 crowd at Kallang gave Ozil a marvellous ovation when he was substituted in the 64th minute, in appreciation of how dangerous he was in the final third of the pitch.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery said: "We want to give him the position that he feels he is best on the pitch. I started with Matteo (Guendouzi) and (Mohamed) Elneny behind (in defensive midfield) to find Mesut between the lines.

"Mesut can also play on the sides as he has quality and good positioning."

With Aaron Ramsey on the bench against PSG, Emery has three quality attacking midfielders at his disposal with Mkhitaryan the other option.

And, as the Spaniard continues to tinker to find the perfect formula to fit in all that firepower, he is nonetheless pleased with the destruction of PSG yesterday.

"We played good, but I wanted more," Emery said.

"I am still happy that all the players pressed. Overall, this tour has been a very positive experience and we are very grateful to Singapore."

His opposite number Thomas Tuchel could only rue the absence of his top players that probably contributed to this spanking at Kallang.

"Nobody likes to lose but, when you look at the team sheets before the match, there's no chance," the German lamented.

As Tuchel is left to gee up his beaten troops, the stadium cameras showed a lighter side of Ozil as he led Aubameyang and Shkodran Mustafi on a merry dance when Holding scored.

But the 29-year-old will turn quiet again once he is back in the media scrum.

It can be hard to decipher Ozil as his emotions can blow from hot to cold with a switch. And it is ironic, for in Turkish, Mesut means "happy".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 29, 2018, with the headline 'Ozil the conductor'. Print Edition | Subscribe