As another year draws to a close, Arsenal can look back with pride on a year that offers genuine cause for optimism.
There have been plenty of highlights during the last 12 months and here we look at some of the Gunners’ defining moments from 2015.
If 2014 belonged to Alexis, then 2015 certainly had Mesut Ozil’s name firmly stamped across it.
The World Cup winner ended the year in scintillating form with two Vitality Player of the Month awards after claiming 15 assists in 16 Premier League appearances.
Not only that but, in addition to his four goals in all competitions, Ozil also set a new league record of assisting in seven games in a row, boasting twice as many as Gerard Deulofeu and Riyad Mahrez, the division’s second-best providers.
All of this before Christmas.
Even when Arsenal’s momentum looked to have temporarily been halted through injuries to Alexis, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin, Ozil rose to the occasion and thrived on centre stage. A goal at Norwich was followed by an assist against Aston Villa, and another two in the Gunners’ crucial win against Manchester City.
However, the Germany playmaker’s most devastating performance arguably came in Arsenal’s emphatic win against Manchester United. Playing with complete freedom and confidence, the 27-year-old was an integral part of a red-hot front line who hit three past Louis van Gaal’s men inside the opening 20 minutes.
Ozil was at his influential best, combining with Aaron Ramsey to set up Alexis, before steering Theo Walcott’s cross into the bottom corner at the end of a trademark Arsenal counter-attack.
The midfielder has delivered in the big games too, claiming two assists in last season’s FA Cup semi-final extra-time victory against Reading, starring in the final and also setting up Kieran Gibbs’ late equaliser in this year’s final north London derby.
Looking more at home than ever in Arsenal’s No 11 shirt, Ozil has answered his critics in 2015 and looks certain to carry his sensational form into the New Year.
WHAT THEY SAID
“Mesut is like a musician who always plays the right note, and at the right moment. His timing is perfect - when he has to give the ball, he gives the ball. It's just a pleasure to see. It struck me [on first seeing him] that he was at such a young age, but the boy could time his passing always right. He got out of impossible situations. Also what struck me was that it was not forced on an individual basis - the team play was in front of his ego.”
Arsene Wenger compares Mesut to a musician
"Mesut sees things that most players don’t even see on the pitch. He knows what he’s going to do before he does it, you just have to make that run"
“Mesut sees things that most players don’t even see on the pitch. He knows what he’s going to do before he does it, you just have to make that run. We’ve got special players on the pitch who provide special moments in the match, and that makes our jobs so much easier. It’s a team game but you need these players in your team if you want to continue to play as well as we are. The amount he gives to this team, the threat going forward and also defensively, he puts a shift in and people don’t see that side of the game which has changed in the whole squad.”
Theo Walcott hails Ozil's vision
“Mesut is very lively. His left foot is outstanding and he’s always got a great eye for a pass to a team-mate. His style of play fits perfectly to Arsenal’s game. That’s why he plays a good role there. Mesut can hurt anyone, especially in London, where I see Arsenal as being a tick stronger than when they play away.”
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.