Thriving at Emirates

Following his return from the World Cup, Mesut Ozil struggled for form in the early part of this season and injury led to him missing a further three months but he is now back to his best and Arsenal are reaping the reward. By Jack Maleham.

He has taken his time to settle in England and divided opinion amongst fans and pundits but Mesut Ozil believes he is now playing his best football since joining Arsenal.

The accusation made by his critics is that Ozil too often fails to produce in the big games for Arsenal but his wonderful free-kick in the recent 4-1 demolition of Liverpool helped suggest otherwise.

England fans already knew how influential the attacking midfielder can be after his key role in Germany’s 4-1 demolition job in Bloemfontein at the 2010 World Cup and Ozil is now producing similar displays for the Gunners.

Ozil spent time at a number of different clubs as a youth player before signing professional terms with Schalke 04 in 2006 where he immediately impressed and was described as “the next big thing” by staff and supporters alike.

However, it all turned sour for Ozil in Gelsenkirchen when he rejected a contract with the club, suggesting the wages offered were not high enough. This led to Ozil leaving the club in January 2008 and signing for Werder Bremen for five million euros.

Ozil made an instant impact at his new club and made a major contribution in his first full season when he scored the winning goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2009 DFB-Pokal final. He also helped Bremen reach the final of the UEFA Cup that same year but they lost to Shakhtar Donetsk.

The following season Ozil and Werder Bremen again made it to the DFB-Pokal final, but this time ran into a rampant Bayern Munich, who cruised to a 4-0 victory.

Then came the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the tournament in which Ozil announced himself on the world stage. He starred in Germany’s run to the semifinals and was influential in their demolitions of both England and Argentina, ending the tournament with one goal and three assists as well as being shortlisted for the Golden Ball.

On the back of a brilliant World Cup, Spanish giants Real Madrid signed the German for 15 million euros shortly before the new season. Despite being brought in as back up to Kaka, Ozil found himself starting games after the Brazilian suffered an injury.

His performances in his first season for Real were widely praised as he provided 25 assists in La Liga, the highest number of assists in Europe that season.

Ozil continued his fine form in the next season and scored in El Clasico against fierce rivals Barcelona. His tally of 17 assists resulted in him being shortlist for the Ballon d’Or and he helped Madrid win the Spanish title for the 32nd time in their history, reaching 100 points in the process.

His impressive form ensured he was in the Germany squad for the 2012 European Championship where he was again a shining light for his country as they reached the semifinals, with Ozil winning two Man-of-the-Match awards.

The following season Luka Modric was signed from Tottenham Hotspur to put pressure on Ozil but the increased competition brought the best out of Ozil, who produced an astonishing 29 assists.

It came as something of a surprise when Madrid decided to sell Ozil in 2013 and Arsenal fans were thrilled when they signed him for a fee believed to be GBP 42.4 million.

He began where he left off in Madrid in his first few matches for the Gunners and on his home debut he set up all three goals in a 3-1 victory against Stoke City. Despite a mid-season injury, Ozil still managed to help Arsenal to win the FA Cup, playing 105 minutes of their 3-2 extra-time victory over Hull City in Wembley.

Then came the undoubted career highlight for Ozil as he helped Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with Ozil playing in every match and scoring against Algeria.

Following his return from the World Cup, Ozil struggled for form in the early part of this season and injury led to him missing a further three months, but he is now back to his best and Arsenal are reaping the reward.

NAME: Mesut Ozil POSITION: Midfielder CLUB: Arsenal D.O.B: 15/10/1988 GERMANY CAPS: 64 INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 18

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, playing in all seven games along the way.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Missing a penalty in Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

© PA Sport