Mesut Ozil came within touching distance of breaking Thierry Henry’s assist record in the Premier League last season.
The German helped provide 19 goals for Arsenal over the course of the campaign, finishing just one behind the Gunners’ legend’s total from the 2002/03 season.
Arsene Wenger’s men endured another underwhelming term, extending their top-flight crown drought into a 12th season, as they struggled to find their best form in the second half of the season.
Ozil typified his side’s slump by fading when the Gunners needed him and his teammates to match the results of Leicester City, leaving them 10 points adrift of the Foxes at the end of the campaign.
The 27-year-old will now take his talents into the international arena, where he will hope for greater success with Germany at Euro 2016.He is backed at 13/2 by 32Red UK to lead the competition in assists, with talent such as Thomas Muller and Andre Schurrle to feed off his incisive passing in the final third.
Die Mannschaft will be putting a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Ozil to provide their ammunition given the absence of Marco Reus, their other maestro in the attacking midfield role.Should he deliver under the pressure of a major tournament, Arsenal supporters will be wondering why he failed to produce towards the end of the Premier League season.
The 27-year-old had a steady start to the campaign, with strong performances in the Gunners’ wins over Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Leicester City.Ozil exploded into life with a dominant display against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium, with a goal and an assist to guide his team to a comfortable victory.The performance against the Red Devils kick-started an incredible run of form from the German, as he cut teams open with ease in the final third.
He played a crucial role in away victories over Watford and Swansea City to propel Wenger’s men into the top two, notching a couple of assists in both contests.
Ozil’s link-up play with Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez proved to be almost unplayable for opposing defences, as the midfielder consistently found a way to break through backlines.
He saved his best display for what could have been the most important match of the season had the Premier League gone with the form book, as the German’s two assists put Manchester City to the sword in the teams’ clash in December.
Ozil signed off 2015 with his 16th assist in his side’s 2-0 victory over Bournemouth, a result that lifted Wenger’s men to the top of the Premier League.The German was in a strong position to smash Henry’s record with 19 matches left in the season. However, January began the start of a slump for both Ozil and the Gunners’ as a whole.
The 27-year-old’s next telling contribution would not come until February in Arsenal’s last-gasp win over Leicester, which could have put their surge for the crown back on track, with oddsmakers such as 32Red and Unibet backing them to end their drought.
Despite another good display against United, where Ozil claimed a goal and an assist, the Gunners suffered their sixth loss of the campaign, falling further behind the Foxes.
That would be Ozil’s last notable activity until April, apart from his strike against West Ham United, as he failed to add to his tally of assists until the final game of the term in a crushing win over Aston Villa.
The German notched just three assists in the second half of the campaign after contributing 16 over the opening 19 games.
It would have been a remarkable achievement for Ozil to continue his outstanding form into the second half of the season, as he would have smashed Henry’s record.
However, his decline was a stunning feat in itself. For a player with so much talent to drop off the map completely will undoubtedly have stunned Wenger as much as it did the Arsenal supporters.
Fatigue may have been an issue, as he was called on to play almost every match due to injuries to Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta.
However, as Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League and FA Cup prematurely, he can’t really use that as an excuse.
The form of Giroud in front of goal was also a telling factor, with the Frenchman arguably bearing significant responsibility for Arsenal’s underachievement, after failing to score in 15 matches having notched up 12 goals by the turn of the year.
Giroud’s prowess contributed towards six of Ozil’s assists, and the 29-year-old’s sudden inability to find the net had an inevitable knock-on effect on the German’s tally.
Ozil’s failure to break Henry’s record epitomises Arsenal’s struggle to end their Premier League title drought.
He, like his club, will look back at the season with regret, as although on paper their achievements are impressive, it could be so much sweeter for the German and the Gunners.