Of course we do not know what the Arsenal starting line-up will be for the fourth round FA cup clash away to Brighton on Sunday, but I am fairly confident that one of the names on the team sheet handed in by Arsene Wenger will be Mesut Ozil. And I don’t think I am exaggerating by saying that it is a crucial game for our club record signing.
The German may have expected to feature against Man City at the weekend after coming on for the last 20 minutes against Stoke and doing alright and gaining some valuable fitness and match sharpness after his injury lay-off. But the way Arsenal put in a battling and disciplined away performance only highlights the criticism that has been aimed at Ozil.
Santi Cazorla has proved that he can be a part of that sort of game, tracking back and tackling, fighting hard to keep the ball as well as doing the creative side of things. Can Ozil do that? If not, he needs to show that his attacking contribution is worth losing a bit of steel for.
Championship Brighton should test Ozil on both those fronts and he needs to really shine, because with a slightly easier schedule of fixtures, there is no reason why Cazorla cannot play in every game. So an underwhelming game from the German at Brighton could well see him watching from the bench in the following games.
But just as the return of Ozil seems to have spurred Cazorla on to greater things, the Spaniard’s form can inspire Ozil to really put on a show and give Wenger a selection headache – and Arsenal two fantastic options. But will it happen?