Ozil at his best as he pulls Arsenal's strings in electric win vs. Huddersfield
Arsenal thrashed Huddersfield 5-0 to ensure they take positive momentum into the weekend's clash with Manchester United.
Since losing to Manchester City on Nov. 5, the Gunners have won three Premier League games on the bounce, and this scoreline will have handed a significant boost to their confidence.
Arsene Wenger's side held a half-time lead thanks to Alexandre Lacazette, but it was after the break that they ran away with things. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil and substitute Olivier Giroud (twice) were the men to put the sheen on the scoreline.
Arsenal played some electrifying football in this game. The combination play between the front three was scintillating at times, and Huddersfield simply couldn't live with it.
Ozil was at the heart of everything good the team did. A goal and two assists inside four second-half minutes showed just how good he can be when he's on his game.
The major worry for Arsenal will be the injury to Lacazette. The Frenchman had an excellent first half but was withdrawn after suffering what appeared to be a groin injury. He must now be considered a major doubt for the United game.
Wenger will also have been a little concerned by the sloppiness of Arsenal's performance in the middle third of the game. After taking the lead, a bit of complacency appeared to set in. Until they got the second goal, Arsenal looked to be in real danger of gifting Huddersfield a lifeline.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- This was a good night to be Wenger. The decision to select his strongest XI was vindicated with a strong performance and result. While losing Lacazette is obviously a blow, he'll have been pleased that he was able to substitute Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey off to afford them a measure of protection.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 7 -- The veteran keeper made a particularly outstanding save to deny Steve Mounie an equaliser at the start of the second half. However, he did almost commit an absolute howler, palming a looping ball against his own crossbar.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 7 -- There had been some speculation that Koscielny would be rested for this game, amid fears that his dodgy Achilles might not stand up to three games in a week. However, he looked athletic and alert, especially when racing back to produce one crucial first-half block.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 8 -- The German international continued his solid form with another commanding performance at the heart of the back three. Mustafi's record this season has been excellent; when he plays alongside Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, Arsenal rarely concede.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 -- Huddersfield looked to exploit the space in behind Monreal, but he was largely able to cope. He seems to be developing a very good understanding on the left-hand side with Sead Kolasinac.
MF Hector Bellerin, 7 -- With Ozil back playing in front of him, Bellerin had a more influential game than in the trip to Burnley. However, he could do with working on his crossing -- one wayward effort almost hit the back row of the stand.
MF Granit Xhaka, 6 -- The Swiss midfielder's talent is rarely questioned -- few players can pick a pass like him. However, the question marks over his attitude are understandable, and his sloppy performance in this game won't have done much to exorcise those doubts. Concentration would appear to be the biggest issue for the former Borussia Monchengladbach man.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 8 -- In his programme notes, Wenger spoke about how Ramsey's run of good health has been integral to his recent form. He certainly looked fit on the night, haring around the pitch and producing one sublime moment to create Lacazette's goal. He might be even more effective for Arsenal if he learnt to sit when the team require a bit of defensive security.
MF Sead Kolasinac, 7 -- At Turf Moor, Kolasinac's link-up play had been disappointing. His combination work with Sanchez was better in this game, and he provided a constant menace on the left flank. He might have had a goal, but his run into the box was interrupted by Giroud's thumping finish.
FW Mesut Ozil, 9 -- Maybe the Barcelona scouts really are watching Ozil; this was a performance that suggested the German was eager to impress. He was excellent all night, but the manner in which he carved Huddersfield apart for the second goal was particularly outstanding.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 7 -- This match showed Sanchez at his worst. He was careless in possession, frequently selfish and occasionally offside -- and yet he scored. Invariably, the Chilean proves his value in the end.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 8 -- Arsenal fans will wait anxiously on news of the Frenchman's fitness. The club's leading goalscorer was withdrawn with a knock at half-time, having handed the team the lead with a typically cool finish. The supporters will be praying it was just precautionary; Lacazette had an outstanding first half prior to being replaced, including almost scoring with an outrageous chipped effort.
FW Olivier Giroud, 7 -- Came on for Lacazette at half-time. His first big chance saw him strike the post after rounding the goalkeeper, however, he made amends by scoring two straightforward finishes.
MF Jack Wilshere, NR -- Replaced Ramsey on 75 minutes but did not make much impact.
FW Danny Welbeck, NR -- Introduced for Sanchez in the 75th minute and made a nuisance of himself in the final third.
James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.