Greeting the Season
So, we approach the most revolutionary season in recent Arsenal memory. Excitement builds around the Emirates for the first season under whole new management at Arsenal, and this weekend will see the first Arsenal game since 1996 in which a man other than Arsene Wenger sits in the dugout.
Unai Emery brings a fresh approach to Arsenal, along with comprehensive backroom setup which will have eased his integration to the club, allowing him to focus on getting to know his team and the roles that each player will have.
In a period of such transition, it is hard to know which players will feature the most heavily, particularly in the early stages of Emery’s reign. The one player, however, that is approaching his most important season at the club, and indeed the make or break season of his career is Mesut Ozil.
Ozil has made 142 appearances in the Premier League for Arsenal and has divided opinion among the Arsenal fanbase throughout his spell in North London. While he holds considerable talent, perhaps the finest playmaker in the world, his effort and mobility on the pitch has been called into question regularly.
While it is unfair to criticise Ozil’s commitment, for a player that doesn’t hare around the pitch making tackles, fans expect him to produce quality going forward. Considering then, that in those 142 games, he has contributed to 77 goals and assists, fans may be forgiven for expecting more.
Those same fans can feel excited, however, as this season could breed the perfect storm for Ozil to stamp his authority on the Premier League. A breath of fresh air at the club in terms of management, new signings bolstering the midfield and defence, and a full season of Aubameyang ahead of him could be what Ozil needs to prove himself as one of the world’s best.
Aubameyang put away 10 goals in 12 starts since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in January last season. A striker with such composure and consistency in front of goal could turn Ozil from the most potent chance creator in the league into the leading assist provider. While other strikers such as Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck have not been poor finishers, the sheer consistency of Aubameyang and Lacazette should prove to be the end product to so many of Ozil’s well-created chances.
There are many reasons to be excited this season. But it is the performances of Ozil, particularly after a tough summer for the former German international, that will be most intriguing. After a mediocre season last year, he will hope to at least double his assist figures from 2017-18 (8 league assists), and really show the Premier League what he can do.