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Arsenal 3 - Leicester City 1: a Mesut Ozil masterclass

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Arsenal run their winning streak to 10 on the back of a sublime night from the German midfielder.

Arsenal FC v Leicester City - Premier League
Mesut Ozil’s performance against Leicester was world class.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Mesut freaking Ozil. When he’s on, there are few players in the world better. The German had a goal, an assist, and a wonder-pass to set up another goal in what probably was his best performance in an Arsenal shirt.

The Gunners started the match slowly (which has become a worrying trend for the club), and Leicester looked the better side for most of the first half. The visitors could have been given a penalty on what looked to be a handball from Rob Holding. The ball definitely hit his hand. But as Kyle Martino said at halftime, you’re allowed to use your arms to help you jump, and Holding’s arm was pushed into the ball by a Leicester player’s attempt to head it.

The Foxes took a deserved lead on a Hector Bellerin own goal, which was more unlucky for the Spaniard and Bernd Leno than it was a howler. Probably more at fault for the goal was Alexandre Lacazette, who lost James Maddison, putting Bellerin into a difficult spot.

It was a tough night for the Frenchman who could have cost Arsenal another goal when he was two yards behind the defensive line on a set piece, keeping several Leicester players onside. The mistake allowed Harry Maguire a free header that Leno made a fantastic save to keep out. The striker also missed an absolute sitter of a chance that would have made it 4-1.

The Leicester goal seemed to wake Arsenal up, and they dominated the last 10 minutes of the first half, culminating in Ozil’s goal to level the score just before the whistle. Most impressive about the goal was how easy he made it all look. Receiving the ball perfectly in stride at full sprint and hitting a first-time, precision finish on the run is difficult to do.

Arsenal carried their momentum into the second half and controlled the play for the entire 45 minutes. Full credit to Unai Emery, apart from the Chelsea match, the team has looked significantly better in the second half of games - he seems to be pushing the right buttons at halftime.

But Arsenal didn’t break the game open until Pierre Emerick Aubameyang replaced Stephan Lichtsteiner (who looked worryingly off the pace) and Matteo Guendouzi replaced Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the 60th minute. Those somewhat strange substitutions pushed Granit Xhaka to left back, where he performed surprisingly well. Three minutes after the changes, Ozil found Bellerin with an otherworldly pass, who set up Aubameyang for a tap-in.

Three minutes later it was Aubameyang with another tap-in, set up this time by Ozil. The goal ran PEA’s total to 16 in 22 Premier League appearances. As if assisting on the goal wasn’t enough, Ozil also created space on the move with a brilliant dummy.

Ozil’s man of the match performance overshadowed Alex Iwobi’s play on the evening, which was also spectacular. The self-proclaimed Nutmeg Prince (I’m totally cool with the nickname, for the record) was menacing yet again from wide areas and has been integral in spreading the field to create space in the middle.

Lucas Torreira was fantastic tonight. You don’t always notice his play, but he does so many of the little things well. He breaks up opposing moves, wins the ball back, and calmly distributes it to the game-breakers.

The win runs Arsenal’s streak to 10 games, the sixth time in club history they’ve accomplished that feat and the first time since 2007. The Gunners are next in action on Thursday when they travel to Portugal to play Sporting. They then have a quick turnaround to face Crystal Palace on Sunday at Selhurst Park.

Clearly the winning streak is going to end sometime - the Gunners aren’t going to win out. But man, I’m enjoying the ride. The open, attacking football they’ve played in the second halves against Fulham and Leicester has been a joy to watch.