Phillipe Coutinho

Mesut Ozil has quietly proved he is the best number ten in the Premier League

Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal arrival in the summer of 2013 created shock waves for fans in north London who felt the £42.5 million acquisition from Real Madrid was a sign of Arsene Wenger finally being a little less tight with the club’s money.

Since then Ozil has been something of a Marmite footballer with some thinking he has been the best thing since slice bread, and the rest being of the opinion that his Premier League future could be toast in the not too distant future.

One major criticism of him is the claim that he goes ‘missing’ in big matches, despite the fact that two of his four league goals last season came in the north London derby with Tottenham and in the home clash against Liverpool as well as two of his seven assists in all club competitions during the 2014-15 campaign coming in the FA Cup Semi-Final win over Reading.

Ozil of course was also superb in Sunday’s 3-0 win over rivals Manchester United, creating one goal and scoring another as the Gunners romped to victory at the Emirates stadium.

David Silva of Manchester City is considered the best number ten by the majority of fans and pundits, and with good reason too as he topped most of the important stats for the required position last season against fellow number tens.

The Spaniard registered seven assists, more than Ozil (five), Phillippe Coutinho (also five) and Juan Mata (four). Oscar contributed more however with eight as Chelsea won the Premier League for the first time in five years.

Silva did create more chances, scored more goals and made more key passes than all of the above though. Ozil created 23 less chances (70) than Silva (93), scored four goals compared to Silva’s 12 and made 21 less key passes (65 to Silva’s 86).

However, Ozil played just 22/38 games whereas Silva featured in ten more and therefore was on a football pitch 781 minutes more than his German compatriot.

Stat off: Ozil vs Silva

Stat off: Ozil vs Silva

If you do the maths, on average, if Ozil played those 781 minutes, his numbers would be higher than Silva’s.

He would have seven assists, level with Silva, 92 key passes, higher than Silva’s 86 and he would have created 99 chances, six more than the ex-Valencia man.

Silva would still top Ozil in the goals stakes. Arsenal’s number 11 would only score one more goal.

It is a similar story if you take his totals from the early stage of the 2015-16 season.

Out of Ozil, Silva, Mata, Coutinho and Oscar, Mata has featured the most with eight matches, having played for 664 minutes.

Mata’s stats for assists, key passes, chances created and goals are three, 13, 16 and three respectively, and he is only the best amongst his fellow centre attacking midfielders at scoring goals – and that is without the average score coming into effect.

City’s Silva is the most efficient assister with six. Ozil has four, Coutinho has two and Oscar does not have any.

Ozil is numero uno (or nummer Eins) in terms of key passes (27) and chances created (31), compared to Silva (ten and 16), Mata (13 and 16), Coutinho (five and seven) and Oscar (three and three).

SQ

Once you calculate all five players to have played as much as Mata, the results are as follows:

Assist king is still Silva with ten, next is Ozil with five, Mata and Coutinho are level on three and Oscar is still stuck on zero (although, in fairness, he probably would have registered at least one if he played another six times).

Again, Ozil is the most creative in terms of key passes and chances created with Silva, Mata, Oscar and Coutinho behind him in that order for both stats.

Mata remains the top scorer too, closely followed by Oscar, Silva, Coutinho and finally Ozil.

Number tens are often judged on their assist totals, and that makes sense, but Ozil is let down in this tally, not for his lack of creating ability (as his key passes and chances created amount prove), but because of the strikers who are supposed to finish off his good work.

At Real Madrid Ozil played behind one of the best forwards and players in the world right now, and that the sport has ever seen, in Cristiano Ronaldo and, failing that, Karim Benzema, a very good striker in most people’s eyes.

During this time in the Spanish capital Ozil racked up 47 assists in three and a bit seasons, whereas his numbers have gone down since he has started playing with a good, but wasteful, pair of attackers in Oliver Giroud and Theo Walcott. If those two could finish as well as Ronaldo, then Ozil would get a lot more assists.

This works in a similar vein to Silva who is fortunate enough to be in the same side as one of, probably the best, centre forward in the Premier League – Sergio Aguero.

If Aguero was up front for Arsenal, Ozil would have a better option in front of him to score the chances he creates, therefore increasing the amount of assists he gets. The point is made often that for this reason Ronaldo makes Ozil look better than he is, potentially valid point, but on the flip-side, surely that means Giroud and/or Walcott could or do make him look worse than many seem to think he is?

Not that it was needed, but that must give Arsenal fans even more reason to want Wenger to splash out on a world class centre forward, to not just get more goals for the FA Cup holders, but to get Ozil the credit he deserves as truly the Premier League’s best number 10 right now.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Liverpool (Gayle ’17, Ledley ’78, Jedinak ’81, Lambert ‘2)

Liverpool’s Selhurst Park curse continued as Crystal Palace cruised to a win to climb out of the bottom three while the Reds are now winless in four.

Late strikes from Joe Ledley and an astonishing Mile Jedinak free-kick sealed the three points for Palace despite Liverpool taking the lead after just two minutes.

Rickie Lambert scored his first goal in Liverpool colours to give his boyhood club a dream start before Palace pegged them back.

It was a goal made in Southampton with Lambert latching onto Adam Lallana’s through ball before tucking the ball past Julian Speroni.

Dwight Gayle took the wind out of Liverpool’s sails soon after though, equalising 15 minutes later when he turned in the rebound from Yannick Bolasie’s fierce strike off the post for his fourth goal in his last three games against Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Palace had to wait a little longer for their second but it was well worth it, Bolasie, who terrorised Liverpool all game, flicked the ball over Dejan Lovren and then squared it to Ledley who was never going to miss from point blank range.

Jedinak completed the scoring when he curled in a corker of a free-kick nine minutes before the end.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Delaney (Hangeland ’36), Dann, Ward, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie, Puncheon (McArthur ’76), Gayle, Chamakh

Subs not used: Hennessey, Bannan, Zaha, Campbell, Johnson

Bookings: Hangeland ’84

Red Cards: None

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen (Can ’74), Coutinho, Lallana (Borini ’72), Sterling, Lambert

Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Moreno, Lucas, Markovic

Bookings: Skrtel ’53, Manquillo ’61

Red Cards: None

Man of the Match: Yannick Bolasie

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid (Ronaldo ’23, Benzema ’30, ’41)

Reigning champions Real Madrid kept up their 100% start to this season’s Champions League campaign thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and a brace from Karim Benzema.

Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo set the Galacticos on their way 23 minutes in, capping off a wonderful one-two with James Rodriguez, letting the ball bounce before beating a despairing Simon Mignolet inside the box with an accomplished finish.

Benzema doubled the visitors’ lead on the half hour mark with a looping header from Toni Kroos’ cross, leaving Mignolet stranded in the Liverpool goal once again.

The French forward netted his second of the tie four minutes before the break when he bundled in a badly defended corner. Pepe scrambled the set piece into the path of the 27-year-old to end the contest before half time.

Phillipe Coutinho came closest for the hosts with a rasping drive in the first half that rattled the post but did not find the net to the relief of the under fire Goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Ronaldo, the ex Manchester United star who scored his first ever goal at the home of their arch rivals tonight, was keen to silence the boo boys during the 90 minutes but could not add to his tally, shooting wide on one occasion and was denied by Mignolet on a few occasions.

He was replaced later on in the second half by Sami Khedira with Carlo Ancelotti clearly having one eye on Saturday’s El Clasico which promises to be an exciting occasion on Saturday evening.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson (Can ’67), Coutinho (Markovic ’67), Sterling, Balotelli (Lallana ’45)

Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Manquillo, Lambert

Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo (Nacho ’85), Kroos (Illaramendi ’82), Modric, Ronaldo (Khedira ’65), Isco, James, Benzema

Subs not used: Navas, Carvajal, Medran, Hernandez

Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa

Aston Villa grinded out an unexpected 0-1 win over Liverpool thanks to an early goal by Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Agbonlahor, who this week signed a four-year contract extension at Villa Park, put his boyhood club 0-1 up after just nine minutes when he bundled in a corner thanks to some poor Liverpool defending.

Said defence was under pressure again soon after but this time Phillipe Senderos headed over from Ashley Westwood’s free-kick.

Liverpool throughout tried and failed to break down a resolute and organised Villa side.

Mario Balotelli, who many quoted as a “bargain” at £16 million was ineffective against Senderos and Nathan Baker on his home debut in a Liverpool shirt and was replaced by Rickie Lambert with 20 minutes to go.

The controversial Italian had just one chance of note, a deflected effort in first half injury time that went wide.

Balotelli also had headed chances at corners but did not gain sufficient contact on either of them.

Liverpool’s closest effort came nine minutes before the end when Phillipe Coutinho hit the post from the outside of the area. From the rebound Raheem Sterling’s shot was blocked by his own player Jordan Henderson which summed up their day.

Brendan Rodgers’ side again showed that while plan A of patient but potent passing play can be deadly as well as easy on the eye, the side lacks a different option when teams set up to defend and hit them through a counter attack or, like this case,  a set piece.

Aston Villa however were impressive in the way they set themselves up and continued their recent good form at Anfield, they have not lost there in their last four outings now.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Lallana (Sterling ’61), Markovic (Borini ’71), Balotelli (Lambert ’71)

Subs not used: Jones, Enrique, Lucas, Toure,

Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Baker, Senderos, Cissokho, Westwood, Delph, Cleverley (Sanchez ’86), Richardson, Agbonlahor (Bent ’90), Weimann (N’Zogbia ’72)

Subs not used: Given, Okore, Bacuna, Grealish

Tottenham 0-3 Liverpool

A Raheem Sterling strike, a spot kick from Steven Gerrard and a magnificent individual goal by Alberto Moreno earned Liverpool a 0-3 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Sterling tapped Liverpool in front after eight minutes and Gerrard’s penalty ensured that his team would be going back to Anfield with three points.

Alberto Moreno’s marauding run and finish ended any Tottenham hopes of a comeback.

Liverpool began the game in typically dynamic fashion, new signing Mario Balotelli had a header saved after just two minutes.

They did not have to wait long for their opener however as Sterling converted from Jordan Henderson’s squared ball just six minutes later.

The Reds began the second half much like they did the first, scoring three minutes after the interval with a Gerrard penalty. Joe Allen was bundled over in the box by Eric Dier who failed to win the ball but the contact was minimal.

Spot on: Gerrard's converts his penalty.

Spot on: Gerrard’s converts his penalty.

Moreno’s first goal in England sealed the win, a powerful unchallenged sprint down the left flank which culmiated in the Spaniard lashing the ball off the inside of the post and in. Lightly reminiscing the sort of goals Gareth Bale scored in the same stadium once upon a time.

Brendan Rodgers’ boys should have made it four after a jinking run but did too much and his final product was a tame shot straight at Hugo Lloris when it was arguably easier to score.

It could have been a totally different game though had firstly Emmanuel Adebayor flick over Simon Mignolet gone under the bar rather than over sixty seconds after Sterling’s opener.

Nacer Chadli also had a half volley superbly saved by Mignolet just before half time.

Tottenham’s game was summed up in second half stoppage time, being denied a penalty for a shirt tug on Adebayor.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Dier, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose (Davies ’72), Bentaleb (Dembele ’59), Capoue, Chadli, Eriksen (Townsend ’59), Lamela, Adebayor

Subs not used: Friedel, Chiriches, Holtby, Kane

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Gerrard, Allen (Can ’61), Sterling (Enrique ’86), Sturridge, Balotelli (Markovic ’61)

Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Lambert, Coutinho

Man of the match: Raheem Sterling

Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool

Champions Manchester City continued their 100% start to the season thanks to a 3- 1 win over Liverpool, a Stevan Jovetic braced and one from Sergio Aguero sealed the points for City.

Debut defender Alberto Moreno was at fault, failing to clear his lines, dallying while Stefan Jovetic seized on Moreno’s hesitancy and smashed home through Simon Mignolet’s legs four minutes before the break.

Moreno fell asleep for the second as well, as Samir Nasri’s squared pass from the right hand side of the box was tapped home by Jovetic but City’s build up play deserves some plaudits.

A flamboyant flick from Jovetic teed up Nasri who returned the favour, picking out the Montenegro man whose shot was just out of reach of Glen Johnson on the line in the tenth minute of the second half.

Aguero’s steady return to the Manchester City fold continued due to his World Cup commitments, coming on as a 68th substitute but his introduction to the score sheet was anything but slow.

20 seconds after coming on, the little Argentine burst onto fellow substitute Jesus Navas’ through ball, leaving the high lined Liverpool defence in his wake, taking one touch and then slotting past Mignolet who was caught in no man’s land.

Rickie Lambert did add faint consolation for the visitors, bundling in his first goal in the colours of his boyhood team when his original shot from Daniel Sturridge’s cross was saved with 83 minutes played.

Liverpool almost halved the deficit but Lambert’s decision to attempt a squared pass to Sturridge instead of taking a shot at goal allowed Vincent Kompany to deal with the situation and an intriguing climax was thwarted.

Brendan Rodgers’ side rarely threatened despite their goal but Sturridge did come relatively close with a fizzing shot that need palming away by Hart, denying the England striker a goal at the club he began his career at.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernando, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Silva (Navas ’65) Jovetic (Fernandinho ’80), Dzeko (Aguero ’69)

Subs not used: Caballero, Sagna, Kolarov, Milner

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Moreno, Skrtel, Lovren, Gerrard, Henderson, Allen (Can ’74), Coutinho (Markovic ’60) Sterling (Lambert ’79), Sturridge

Subs not used: Jones, Manquillo, Sakho, Kolo Toure

Man of the match: Stevan Jovetic

Liverpool 2-1 Southampton

Goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge secured a 2-1 win over a spirited Southampton side.

Sturridge squeaked home the winner ten minutes before the end, getting on the end of a Sterling header and finishing from close range with the deftest of touches.

Sterling gave Liverpool the lead when he seized on Jordan Henderson’s intelligent defense splitting pass from the halfway line and slotted the opening goal of the game into the corner first time past Fraser Forster 23 minutes into the match.

Liverpool’s 19-year-old winger could have had a second in first half stoppage time but this time Forster was equal to his shot from the edge of the box.

Nathaniel Clyne equalized for the visitors 11 minutes into the second half when he smashed home from close in following a neat one-two with debutant Dusan Tadic.

Southampton could have completed a shock turnaround seven minutes later when James Ward-Prowse teed up Steve Davis but he failed to to generate enough power on his shot and it was easier for Simon Mignolet to deal with than it should have been.

Want-away midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin came closest for the Saints in the first half, his dipping curled shot needed to be tipped over the bar by Mignolet just before the break.

Sterling Start: England International Sterling puts the hosts in front.

Sterling Start: England International Sterling puts the hosts in front.

Ronald Koeman’s outfit almost snatched a victory in the dying minutes, first Schneiderlin thundered a shot off the underside of the bar and somehow £12 million man Shane Long headed the rebound wide.

It was Liverpool who held onto the win though and start this season just how they ended the last one.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Gerrard, Lucas (Allen ’63), Henderson, Coutinho (Lambert ’76), Sterling, Sturridge

Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Sakho, Ibe, Can

Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Isgrove ’82), Ward-Prowse, Tadić (Long ’74), Pelle

Subs not used: K. Davis, Taïder, Cork, Hooiveld, Stephens

Man of the match: Raheem Sterling

Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City

Coutinho

Liverpool defeated title rivals Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield thanks to Phillipe Coutinho’s late winner on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster as Jordan Henderson saw red in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers’ side opened the scoring with the first chance of the match. Luis Suarez held off Martin Demichelis well before playing a pinpoint pass to Raheem Sterling who broke free of Vincent Kompany.

The Belgian had a lapse in concentration and failed to pick up his marker. The young England winger Sterling showed fantastic composure in front of goal, skipping away from Joe Hart and then slotting home the opener after just six minutes.

Manchester City’s afternoon got worse soon after when Yaya Toure landed awkwardly following a wayward shot from long range and was replaced by Javi Garcia soon after.

Liverpool doubled their lead 20 minutes later when Sterling’s corner was headed in by Skrtel after a second example of poor marking from Kompany. An uncharacteristic poor performance from the Manchester City captain.

Edin Dzeko had a decent shout for a penalty on 33 minutes when he was tripped by Mamadou Sakho but referee Mark Clattenburg ruled that there was no wrong doing.

Liverpool had a penalty shout of their own in the second half when Suarez went down following an altercation with Kompany. Referee Clattenburg waved play on to the dismay of many Liverpool fans.

The Citizens halved the deficit just before the hour mark when David Silva tapped home from close range following a beautiful passing move. Substitute James Milner played a neat one-two with Fernandinho before setting up Silva who had the easy task of making it 2-1.

City supporters had to wait just five minutes for their leveller. Milner played in Silva on the left side of the box whose cutback pass across goal deflected off Glen Johnson which caught Mignolet flat footed and deflected into the net to level the scores.

Liverpool regained the lead when Coutinho fired home the winner with an accurate first time finish past the despairing Joe Hart 12 minutes from time from the centre of the area into the bottom right corner of the goal.

The second half was an edgy affair with City enjoying the majority of the play. A real Dr.Jekell and Mr.Hyde performance from Liverpool who dominated the first 45, with City only causing the hosts problems towards the end of the half.

City’s best chance of the first period came from a corner just before half time. Simon Mignolet drifted too far off his line and was beaten in the air by Kompany. Sterling cleared the ball off the line first before Glen Johnson headed it away from danger.

Fernandinho came even closer seconds later. In space, he managed to get a shot away and was only denied by a superb fingertip stop by Mignolet and shortly afterwards, an eventful first half came to an end.

Suarez was fortunate not to see red in the second half when he dived following an incident with Demichelis but Referee Mark Clattenburg decided not to book the Urugayan despite awarding Manchester City the free kick.

With the home side holding onto their narrow lead, Jordan Henderson was sent off three minutes into five added on when he went overboard on a challenge and fouled Samir Nasri. He will miss three of Liverpool’s four remaining games.

Martin Skrtel was incredibly fortunate not to give away a penalty in the very last minute as he used to his hand to clear a deep cross into the Liverpool box. Clattenburg failed to spot the incident in what was a bad refereeing performance by him.