Mesut Ozil is looking like a £40million player every week, the great escape is still alive and other things we learned from Arsenal 3 Dynamo Zagreb 0.
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Ozil in his best form for three years
The frustration of Mesut Ozil’s first two seasons at Arsenal was that the magic was only showcased intermittently. A silky touch here, a stupendous pass there. But the odd moment of class was not enough from the German playmaker, especially given his status as the team’s best-paid player recruited for the biggest fee in the club’s history. The stardust was mixed with sawdust. Accusations of inconsistency and lack of application are now a thing of the past. Ozil is delivering, match after match. After extending his record to assists in seven consecutive Premier League matches at the weekend, the German opened the scoring on Tuesday with an excellent diving header to finish off a brilliant counter-attack. Not only was it well executed, it was brave, too. Ozil risked getting clattered by the Dynamo goalkeeper but put his head in where it hurts. The 27-year-old is in his best form for three years.
Arsenal take step to Champions League redemption
All went according to plan for Arsenal Wenger’s team. The great escape is still alive. Arsenal did their bit by cruising past Dynamo and, as expected, Bayern Munich did their bit by destroying Olympiakos. But for Arsenal to maintain their enviable record of qualifying for the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition, the hard bit is still to do. They must win by two at the home of Olympiakos in a 15 days’ time, or match the Greek team’s 3-2 win at Emirates Stadium earlier in the competition. A tough ask, but at least it is in Arsenal’s hands and they travel to Greece with the chance to stay in the Champions League in the new year.
Giroud needs to be wrapped in cotton wool
As Arsenal’s only fit senior striker, Olivier Giroud has taken on added value to his team over the last month. He has not been over-worked this season after sharing centre-forward duties with Theo Walcott earlier in the campaign but Wenger, who has no choice but to start the big Frenchman in every game, needs to keep him fresh. With the Gunners in complete command at 2-0, Wenger took the sensible decision to substitute Giroud midway through the second half and save him for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Norwich. The striker’s capacity for shaking off knocks are legendary at London Colney but he has to be wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the busy December programme.
Chambers will be tried in midfield
Eyebrows were raised when Wenger said at his media briefing on Monday that rookie defender Calum Chambers could be used as an emergency option in midfield after Francis Coquelin suffered the knee injury that will sideline him for three to six months. But the manager was true to his word and, with Santi Cazorla subbed after another impressive showing, Chambers slotted in alongside Mathieu Flamini for the last 10 minutes of this Champions League stroll. It was the first time he had played in central midfield since a horror show in that position at Southampton last season.
Ramsey will be gradually eased back to full speed
Aaron Ramsey has been sorely missed during his six-match absence. Since he limped off 57 minutes into the landmark 2-0 win over Bayern Munich on 20 October, Arsenal have lost three times, drawn once and been the victors on just two occasions. Wenger would have been tempted to have started with the Welshman but claimed before kick-off he did not want to be “too adventurous” with the key midfielder after just one full training session with his team-mates. Ramsey was introduced after 67 minutes in an attacking midfield role as he was eased back into the team after his month-long absence.