Arsenal: Mesut Ozil Changing His Movement In One Key Area

Arsene Wenger, after Mesut Ozil’s hat-trick against Ludogorets in the Champions League, has stated that the Arsenal man has changed his type of movement.

The one major criticism hanging over the head of Mesut Ozil has been his lack of goals. The Arsenal man has always been seen as a terrific player, with excellent technique, a wonderful range of passing and an ability to play in slow motion, picking apart the holes in opposing defences. However, goals have never been a strength of his game.

That was until this season at least. After his impressive hat-trick against Ludogorets on Wednesday night, Ozil has now scored six goals in nine starts a sub appearance including five in his last five games for the Gunners.

That is a good strike rate for a centre-forward, nevermind an attacking midfielder. It has come on the back of one key change in his movement. It is not pure luck that Ozil is now scoring more goals. There is a conscious change in the way he is playing that is now paying dividends. Arsene Wenger explained the change in the German’s game in his press conference after the 6-0 thrashing in the Champions League:

“He looks like he gets a taste to score goals because he goes more in behind [the defence]. Before, he liked only to come to the ball and provide. You want him to be a provider and a scorer, and it looks like he is slowly moving to that better balance.”

What has changed for Ozil has been his willingness to run in behind defences, rather than just receive the ball to feet at every opportunity. That is possible because of Wenger’s decision to employ Alexis Sanchez as the central striker. With the Chilean playing as the lone centre-forward, due to his penchant for drifting wide and dropping deep himself, often the space is behind the back four, not in front.

Ozil, as the intelligent player that he is, has taken advantage of this to great effect, as evidenced by his three goals on Wednesday. The first was a long ball from Santi Cazorla that he brought down beautifully, the second came from a Lucas Perez – he was playing striker at that point in the game and also possesses the same desire to not stay central but drift wide – square pass from the right and then his third was when he connected with Perez once more, but this time striking a volley from a cross from the left wing.

Ozil’s movement without the ball has always been a threat, but in years previous, it has been relentless but never dynamic. He was always on the move without ever making the crucial sprint to open up play. He would use his teammate’s runs to create space for himself. Now, he’s the one making the dynamic runs, and he’s scoring as a result.