Mesut Ozil’s return to Arsenal contention after lengthy injury will not be given the kind of fanfare usually reserved for a star player’s recovery.
The plateau in his initially stellar output following that 2013 move from Real Madrid has been all the more galling for the fact that he was able to contribute skilfully to Germany’s World Cup win last summer.
Ozil played eight times across Premier League and European football this term before injury struck, claiming one goal and two assists and truly shining in a solitary outing.
Yet come lunchtime on Sunday, when Arsenal are 2/5 favourites to beat Stoke at the Emirates, or sometime in the very near future, he must make team in place of Santi Cazorla.
The German’s impending return to the fray seemingly went off like the proverbial firework up Santiago’s shorts, with his entire output of goals and all bar one of his assists across league and Champions League action mustered since November 26, despite him having played 18 games for scant reward beforehand.
Unfortunately the number ten position he has been occupying during his recent purple patch also happens to be the only place Ozil can really be himself in the Arsenal setup.
As much has been proven this season in his sole start as the central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 against Aston Villa, when he created one strike and scored another.
His other seven pre-injury appearances saw him toiling across various stations in an uncomfortably deep midfield line as Arsene Wenger persisted with a kind of 4-1-4-1 setup seemingly designed to include both Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey in their natural positions.
Despite his dramatic drop off in form last season and playing less games Ozil exceeded Cazorla on all the traditional measures of a number ten’s effectiveness.
He scored five goals to the Spaniard’s four, made nine assists to his eight and averaged 2.9 key passes per outing to to his rival’s 2.2.
Having spent much of the early part of theiscampaign on the left, Cazorla has flourished for the return to playing in his favoured central attacking role.
Surely it makes sense to allow Ozil, a better player in the same position, the same opportunity?