Last night, Arsenal took the race for a top four finish to the final day of the season with a 2-0 win at home to Sunderland. The first half was pretty forgettable for Arsenal fans, as the team seemed to struggle to find their feet after Saturday’s 4-1 win away at Stoke. The goals came in the last 20 minutes of the game thanks to Alexis Sanchez, who passed fit after an injury scare on the weekend, but the Chilean isn’t my pick for man of the match.
The two main candidates, in my eyes, to be Arsenal’s man of the match were Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil. The pair were top of the pile in most areas going forward like passes, attacking third passes, chances created as well as sharing the ball with each other more than any other pair on the pitch. So it only seems logical that these two would be up for man of the match and my pick is Mesut Ozil, who followed up his goalscoring outing at Stoke well, yesterday.
In a game which proved to be quite difficult for Arsenal as a whole, Ozil was definitely a shining light throughout. The German had a record breaking night which saw Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford make 11 saves, as he created a Premier League record of 12 chances in a single match. He also completed 90% of his 85 passes on the night.
Some of Ozil’s mot eye-catching pieces of play included his exchange with Aaron Ramsey in and around the Sunderland box, which saw the two somehow pass their way through a bunch of players which ended in Ozil feeding Ramsey for a shot on goal. Ozil and Ramsey almost paired up again as Arsenal’s number 11 was inches away from finding Ramsey inside the box with a very clever outside of the boot pass which just missed the Welshman.
Ozil finally got his eighth Premier League assist of the season after being found unmarked deep in the Sunderland penalty area before showing his class, as he effortlessly cushioned the ball across on the half volley to Alexis Sanchez for the opener in the 72nd minute.
He could’ve bagged another assist moments later, as he found himself deep in the Sunderland area again, before cutting back to see both Alex Iwobi and Xhaka in space but unfortunately, Xhaka’s shot was parried by Pickford before it was cleared away.
The chances created stat wasn’t the only record Mesut broke last night either, as he became the club’s fifth highest assist maker with 41, the same amount as Robert Pires. That number is also more than any other player since his debut against Sunderland in 2013. Hopefully, on Sunday, he can make it 42 and help Arsenal achieve another top four finish against Everton.