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Mesut Ozil was box office: But can Arsenal star repeat Spurs performance at Burnley?

COMMENT: So what was it? What was the motivation behind that performance? The fans? The atmos? The contract...? Why did Mesut Ozil manage to hit fifth gear from the off yesterday?

At 29, there couldn't be a bigger criticism of the German than what we're all asking today. Why Saturday? Why against Tottenham? Why could he do it then - but not before?

Against Spurs, Ozil was magnificent. Every inch the £200,000-a-week player he claims to be. Both on the ball and going forward, but more importantly when Tottenham had possession. He wasn't getting his foot in. He wasn't diving into 40-60s. That's not his game - and the fans accept that. But he was energetic. Inspired. Showing as much desire to get back into position. To fill space. To get the right side of his opponent, as he was when on the ball trying to pick a pass for Alexis Sanchez or Alexandre Lacazette. This was the player... scratch that. This was the worldbeater Ozil could be. He'd bossed the midfield. He'd seen off the great pretender Dele Alli - the Spurs man hooked on 75 minutes. And in a flash - well, 80-odd minutes - it was over.

Today, he's being celebrated. On the big day. In front of the watching world. He delivered. The cynic will say it was the perfect shop window for Ozil. A Bosman, producing a five-star performance against the 'it team' of the moment. Ozil could name his price after that. Yeah, but only if Saturday was the latest of a run of similar performances. And the problem is, which is where Ozil's career now currently stands, there's the heavy doubt of whether he can do it again.

Next week, it's Burnley at Turf Moor. Correct! The football gods couldn't have scheduled things better. The chance to silence all us doubters. Away at the Clarets. Where digging in. Going to war. And then playing some football. That's the qualities needed to win - and in that order.

For the questions leveled at Ozil, you could ask of any one of his teammates who performed so well on Saturday. Right from the off, they were at it. Indeed, you fancy it was Arsene Wenger's decision to throw Lacazette and Alexis together up front which inspired his players. Two up front, with Ozil working behind them, Wenger went for it. And that attitude was carried through onto the pitch.

When Spurs had the ball, there was no clever sinking back to the halfway line. No zonal marking to fill space. Arsenal simply defended from front to back. Alexis, Lacazette and Ozil chased everything down. Every loose pass. Every lost cause. From the first minute, they were in Tottenham's faces. Just as Ozil showed us, so did Arsenal. This was the team they could be. This was the team Wenger had been insisting to us all was there. Finally, we were seeing it. Great football. Passing football. But with an edge. It was exciting. Thrilling. As much going forward as seeing home players rattling their opponents when chasing them down.

Something clicked. As Spurs worked their way back into the game, we didn't see Wenger go to the touchline. Nor Steve Bould, his assistant. There was no need. Arsenal knew with momentum now with the opposition, they had to dig in. "Be compact", as Ozil said in the aftermath. And they were. This wasn't the selfie gang. The team that never grew up. Arsenal were playing like a mature, winning side. Individuals taking responsibility - Ozil included - and working as a unit. Spurs didn't stand a chance.

So much so, that Mauricio Pochettino, in the visitors' dugout, chose to hook his two proteges. Alli and Harry Kane both were hauled off on 75 minutes. Coincidence? No chance. For once, it isn't Wenger being the subject of locker room speculation. Pochettino had dumped Danny Rose from his squad in the morning, then dragged Alli and Kane off the Emirates pitch to the taunts of the home faithful. You can't believe that's going to be the end it...

In the post-match, Wenger - who has been nothing but honest about the situations of Alexis and Ozil - offered a different angle on the 'shop window' argument. Yeah, Ozil was playing for a big payday, but it needn't have to be away from the Emirates. The message delivered was loud and clear.

"The quality of the contract has to be good and enough for them," said the manager, in a sure sign to Stan Kroenke and co. "I am convinced that they love the club and they love the team.

"I believe that they love the club, they want to stay, but there are other top clubs out there who offer good contracts as well."

Bang! It doesn't get any clearer than that. Alexis and Ozil love the club. They love their teammates. It's now up to the board to match what they're being offered elsewhere.

Do it all again at Turf Moor and that £200,000-a-week Ozil wants will start looking a bargain.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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