Arsene Wenger labelled Mesut Ozil a “complete player” after the Germany playmaker inspired a 2-0 win over AFC Bournemouth that lifted Arsenal to the Premier League summit.
On the back of their shock 4-0 thrashing at Southampton, Arsenal made a tentative start to Monday’s match at Emirates Stadium before Gabriel powered home his first goal for the club from a 27th-minute Ozil corner.
The ex-Real Madrid man’s right-flank set-piece deliveries continued to create panic in the opposition box and he was at the centre of Arsenal’s best work before exchanging passes with Olivier Giroud to seal victory after the hour.
Ozil now has five goals for the season in all competitions and an incredible 16 Premier League assists – four short of the league record.
He is proving to be a focal point in Arsenal’s quest for a first top-flight crown since 2004, and Wenger has likened his qualities to those of club great Dennis Bergkamp.
“Mesut was the focal point of our team because we had a new midfield [with Calum Chambers alongside Aaron Ramsey in the centre],” Wenger told a post-match news conference.
“He [Ozil] gives reassurances with his technical ability and his maturity. He gives you that security and he gives you confidence.
“I have seen a few good games from Ozil but what’s important is that he’s not only a talented player but ready to work very hard from the team. He’s added goals to the assists and overall he’s a complete player.
“I’ve not seen many of that quality. I don’t like to compare players but he’s an exceptional player. I’ve always defended that point of view, even when you [journalists] were sceptical about it.
“I believe he is also improving and getting better to reach his potential, consistently going upwards.
“Look at the numbers on the assists and they speak for him.
“He reminds me of Bergkamp. Bergkamp was more of a goalscorer, Ozil more assists. But now he’s scoring too.”
Wenger conceded that the sluggish start to the match, before Ozil took charge, was as a direct result of the Southampton reverse 48 hours previous.
“It was nervous at the start because we had to swallow the 4-0 and it didn’t go well,” the Frenchman added. “We were a bit nervous to concede at the start and determined not to concede.
“After that, we were in control of the game and we played very well.
“You can’t go from the start of the season to the end without some disappointment. Then it’s how you respond and it was important to win the game today.”