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Confidence breeds success for Mesut Ozil and Arsenal FC

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Arsenal’s record-breaking transfer signee has been a controversial player during his tenure at the North-London based club. Some look at him as a playmaker who can become the new Dennis Bergkamp and symbolizes Arsene Wenger’s philosophy in its purest form. Others see him as a talent who disappears too often in matches, lacks the work-rate to contribute in other facets of the game and possesses weak finishing ability in front of goal to take the Gunners to the next level. Regardless of which side you’re on, it’s impossible to deny that Mesut Ozil has lived up to expectations so far this season.

This season after nine appearances, the German international has seven assists, which leads Europe’s top five leagues. He’s been the conductor that Wenger has dreamed of since he signed the World Cup winner for €59 million in 2013. During that time, the three-time Premier League champions have won back-to-back FA Cups and became the most successful club in the legendary tournament’s history.

When trying to figure out when the 27-year-old turned a new leaf, you can look to earlier in the year. In March, the World Cup winner was criticized by fans and critics when he told German newspaper Sport Bild that he could win the Ballon d’Or in the next few seasons. Many wondered why he was wondering about individual awards instead of trying to win the Premier League title with the Gunners. But I believe the statement was more of a challenge from Ozil to himself to become a player who could receive serious consideration for soccer’s most prestigious individual award. Then last month he reiterated his statement from the spring to the same publication and mentioned what he had to do win the golden ball.

“I have to become more dangerous in front of the goal. I was injured for long spells last season, and scored only five in 32 competitive games. I want to improve this. To achieve it, I have to be a bit more egotistical. You need to win major titles with both club and country. In 2016, the chances are there to do just that. We’ve got a great team at Arsenal, which can win titles. After two FA Cup victories in the past two years, we want to be in the mix for the Premier League title. We also need to beat the knockout stages curse in Champions League,” said Ozil.

After losing their first two games in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, an upset occurred when Arsenal beat Bayern Munich 2-0. Ozil scored a goal in the 94th minute to put the game away. Even though his goalscoring totals are still low, the fact that he scored in a big moment shows he’s improving in making pivotal plays in big moments. On Friday, before the match against Everton, his gaffer spoke highly of the 2011-12 La Liga champion.

“He is focused on his job. Talent wise, I think deeply he is a very collective player. He is a very respectful guy. If you tell him to do that he will do it for you. I think his talent is exceptional. Sometimes I think he sacrifices himself for the team. Sometimes he releases the ball when you want him to, sometimes he will do it when you don’t want him to. He plays in the link between the low midfield and the striker. He is the vital part in that. In that final part of the pitch he has the most assists. There he is vital,” said Wenger.

Following the 2-1 victory over the Toffees, Arsenal’s greatest player ever praised Ozil who assisted on the first goal scored by striker Olivier Giroud.

“He did exactly what the game was asking him to do – when he needed to slow it down, he did, when he needed to press forward, he did. He is an amazing player, a World Cup winner, and you have to give him credit because I think this year he has woken up. Sometimes you have to say when it is bad, it is bad. At the moment he is on point, and it’s not a coincidence that Arsenal are top of the league as it stands,” said Thierry Henry on Sky Sports’ Saturday Night Football.

As it seems, Arsenal will go as far as Ozil takes them. He’s in the driver’s seat and has been sensational. While it may be nearly impossible to take the Ballon d’Or from the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi monopoly, if the Gunners can win the league and Germany become Euro champions next year then anything is possible. It’s up to Ozil to see if he’s ready for the responsibility to lead his club and country.

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