Because Leicester City play on Tuesday, it remains to be seen if Arsenal will top the Premier League table at the turn of year. Claudio Ranieri’s surprise package can leapfrog the Gunners if they beat Manchester City at the King Power Stadium, but whatever happens, Arsene Wenger’s team are in a good position heading into the second half of the season.
For Arsenal to be where they are this campaign is both an expectation filled for fans who have demanded more in recent seasons and an achievement in itself because of the issues of depth that the squad has faced. The injury situation has been a hindrance, no doubt about it. For every bad performance, and you think of dropped points away at Norwich and West Brom as well as the recent defeat to Southampton, more options for the Arsenal manager might have altered the result. What if Arsenal had the ability to add some zip to midfield or some quality up front?
In the summer, there was dismay that a centre-forward wasn’t brought in, but with 15 goals so far, Olivier Giroud has performed admirably. Theo Walcott’s six pale in comparison, yet the England man is often given far more leeway from critics and fans. Joel Campbell has come in to play a decent cameo role, too. And the man who has driven Arsenal’s season, Mesut Ozil, is worthy of all the attention he gets at the moment.
He now has 16 league assists for the season, and his goal against Bournemouth came from beautiful combination play between himself and Giroud. Some wondered if the pair were incompatible, with the German’s preference for through balls to a pacey forward, but they’ve dovetailed wonderfully this season.
Ozil’s creativity, his passing, his assists and all other the petals of his attacking flower are what catch the eye, but he probably doesn’t get enough credit for the other aspects of his game. His languid style is probably a factor in this, but his work off the ball doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention. Ever wonder why he has so much space around him when he receives the ball? It’s because he’s run there to find it.
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