Mesut Ozil remains a hugely divisive figure at the Emirates Stadium. For some, the most talented player that Arsenal have had since they made the move from Highbury, he still has his detractors (including every manager since Arsene Wenger) who believes that he doesn’t work hard enough, or fit the tactical requirements of a modern team.
To many, he is a player that demonstrated his class in flashes. And, in many cases, those flashes were spectacular. Upon the announment of his retirement, we take a look at what we believe are his 10 best moments in an Arsenal shirt.
10. The game that won Chelsea the Premier League
In an ironic twist, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were key protagonists in Chelsea winning the Premier League under Antonio Conte.
When the two sides met at the Emirates Stadium early in the season, the pair put on such a first half clinic that the Chelsea boss was forced to change to a back three, a formation with which he then took the Blues on an incredible run with.
But it was Ozil’s third goal that really highlighted the skill of the German. Picking the ball up 30 yards from his own goal, he span N’Golo Kante before providing a perfectly weighted pass to Alexis Sanchez.
Not content to watch the move unfold, he raced into the penalty area to meet the cross, before volleying the ball into the ground and over Kepa to make it 3-0 to the Gunners, and ensure a famous victory.
9. The pass to Kolasinac that no one else saw
One of the beauties of Ozil was that he produced talking points virtually on a game-by-game basis. And there was none more than just quite how he saw the pass to Sead Kolasinac against Burnley.
Picking the ball up on the edge of the box, the Bosnian wasn’t even in frame for plenty watching on TV, while a perfectly weighted pass left him with the simple task of pulling the ball back to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to tap in.
8. The backheel vs Liverpool
Falling out of favour with management in the twilight years of his Arsenal career, Ozil was wheeled out for a Carabao Cup game against Liverpool, and reminded everyone of his supreme talent in what turned out to be an all-time classic.
With Ainsley Maitland-Niles chasing down a loose ball from the Liverpool defender, the angle looked too tight to result in anything, with the ball virtually on the goal-line.
Ozil produced another jaw-dropping piece of skill, however, hooking the ball back to Maitland-Niles to hand Arsenal a 4-2 lead on the night, though they went on to lose on penalties.
7. The day he signed for Arsenal
It was the final 24 hours of the transfer window when Arsene Wenger produced that now immortalised smile and uttered the words “maybe we’ll have a good surprise for you”.
That surprise came in the form of Ozil, who joined from Real Madrid to much excitement among the Arsenal fans, as the sky sports reporter found out first hand.
The first real superstar at the peak of his powers to join the Gunners since their move to the Emirates Stadium, Ozil ushered in a new era of hope that following years of selling their best players, they could finally begin to flex their muscles again.
6. Volleying in the winner vs Newcastle
A 1-0 win against Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium was nothing to write home about, but the goal from Ozil certainly was.
After the Magpies had blocked the initial effort from Alexis, Ozil produced a seemingly effortless hooked volley that found the top corner and sent Arsenal back into the top four at the expense of Burnley.
5. The day he made Arsenal fans believe
The season that Leicester City won the Premier League will rightly go down as one of the best stories in football history. But it looked set to be so different at one point.
After ending Arsenal’s trophy drought in 2014, the German was almost singlehandedly firing Arsenal’s title charge, and deep into stoppage time provided the assist for Danny Welbeck’s winner against the eventual champions.
The win took Arsenal level with Tottenham and just two points behind the Foxes, but fans will point to poor finishing in the second half of the season, and Arsenal’s lack of firepower, as the reason that the title eventually eluded them.
For several months, however, Ozil made them believe.
4. The deft touch for Giroud
When fans think of Ozil, it is for touches like this. Moments of silk that other players simply can’t even fathom, let alone execute.
With a long ball from Per Mertesacker played up to his compatriot, a deft flick sent it behind the Villa defence, and into the path of Olivier Giroud.
Then, time stood still, as the Frenchman seemed to get his feet muddled up and the opportunity threatened to go begging. Finally dinking the ball past Brad Guzan, Ozil’s mastery was rewarded.
3. The Ozil bounce
The Ozil bounce became a trademark finish for the German, whether it be against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth or here, against Liverpool.
Chopping the ball into the ground so that it bounced over the onrushing goalkeeper, Ozil handed Arsenal a 3-2 lead against the Merseyside outfit as they came from 2-0 down to lead courtesy of three goals in five minutes.
2. A 10/10 Leicester City performance
With his powers seemingly on the wane, Mesut Ozil produced arguably the performance of his Arsenal career under Unai Emery against Leicester City.
Handed the captain’s armband, he produced an impudent one-touch finish to level the scores after the Gunners fell behind early, before running the length of the pitch to grab an assist for the third and confirm all three points for his side.
The outing embodied the poise, flair and vision that Gunners fans had been treated to in fits and starts since his arrival, but it was something that he could never quite re-produce after the win over the Foxes.
1. THAT goal vs Ludogorets
When anyone mentions Mesut Ozil, this is the goal that springs to mind, and rightfully so.
Breaking the Ludogorets offside trap, Ozil latched onto a Mohamed Elneny pass before lifting the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, who had left his area to close down the German.
With the goal seemingly at his mercy, he cut back onto his left foot, navigating two despairing sliding challenges before tapping into an empty net.