Arsenal 2-0 Bournemouth
Had Mesut Ozil, in a puff of smoke, magicked up a rabbit on the edge of the box yesterday, I don’t think many present would have batted an eyelid. “It’s just Ozil, nicking a living in the magic circle”, they would have said as a rapid-fire of diagonal balls plopped invitingly onto various players’ (thought mostly Theo Walcott’s) feet.
He was sublime, immense, and simply unstoppable yesterday. His assist record is through the roof, but just occasionally he gets bored of altruism and assists himself to an assist, and then scores. Because he can, right.
We have run out of superlatives in this more superlative of seasons for Ozil, so I’m going to invent one. It’s !!!!!!!. I just don’t know how to pronounce it yet.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) December 29, 2015
Incredible stats for an incredible player.
Back in the saddle we all got, and Ozil took it upon himself to make us all consider the Southampton game as an aberration. We weren’t at our fluid best but we did more than enough to win easily, and could have had a few more.
Actually, there was another interesting subplot: The Forgotten Four.
OK, they’re not remotely forgotten, but I’m too lazy to think of anything more suitable. The four who came in to replace weary limbs – Gabriel, Gibbs, Chambers and The Ox – all had something to prove, and offered timely reminders that they are indeed still here.
Gabriel was particularly impressive: all energy, bite and determination, with a thunder-header marking his arrival in the pantheon of Arsenal scorers.
But I rated the other three, too. Gibbs had a solid game, Chambers acquitted himself very well at defensive midfield (not bossing, but not hiding), while Oxlade-Chamberlain had his best game for a while. When he turns, faces and runs at people you realise what a formidable presence he can be. Defenders don’t like that one bit and that sense of fear is what the Ox needs to offer more.
What else? Walcott was served chance after chance on a platter, but had one of those days. When he did fizz one past the post, he should perhaps have crossed it to Ramsey at the far post instead. Easy to judge in hindsight I know – he played well, but stuff just wasn’t quite coming off, and that happens.
So top we go in this most baffling of seasons, and that’s pretty amazing given the stodge we served up on the south coast on Boxing Day.
But yesterday was all about Mesut Ozil, the most creative, magical player in the Premier League this season.