Monday night football is not the most exciting of prospects in the Premier League, as after all the buzz and excitement of the weekend, most of the drive in fans would have been extinguished, and the clashes are more often than not seen as unnecessary distractions not generating much interest apart from among fans of the clubs involved.
Matchday 9 of the 2018/2019 Premier League season however had a different proposition in store, as Arsenal hosted Leicester City in an end to end and exhilarating clash which had it all from an own goal to a comeback victory.
Arsenal came into the match very much the form team of the two, having won their previous nine matches in all competitions consecutively, and would have been buoyed on by Leicester’s poor record at the Gunners home ground, with the Foxes having not picked up victory at Arsenal in 26 matches across all competitions since a 2-0 victory in 1973.
Arsenal started the game in the worst way possible, going behind through a Bellerin own goal on 31 minutes, but true to their inspirational form of late, The Gunners rallied back to pull off a comeback victory, with a goal from Ozil and a brace from Aubameyang.
The victory moved Arsenal up to fourth on the table, and their fans would be pleased with the progress made so far under Unai Emery. Here are three talking points from the match.
#3 Mesut Ozil still has a lot to offer
The last few years have been a bit tumultuous for the German, once regarded as the premier playmaker in the world; the 29-year-old has seen questions asked of him in recent times, with criticisms of his commitment and a drop in his performance levels drawn to attention.
He was also made the scapegoat for Germany’s dismal World Cup performance, and his treatment by the media and football authorities led him to announce his international retirement in July, in a move which was praised as the right one in many quarters.
Ozil signed a bumper contract extension last season, but a cross section of fans believed that was a wrong decision, as they felt the World Cup winner was past his prime, and that he was just a luxury player not contributing too much on the pitch and being indulged only because of his status.
He began the season in an indifferent form, being merely a passenger as Arsenal lost their opening two games to Manchester City and Chelsea, but he has picked up form in recent weeks.
Donning the armband against Leicester, Ozil was at the heart of Arsenal’s comeback, the driving force behind everything creative by the Gunners, leveling the match with a sublime one-time finish past Kasper Schmeichel after a low cross by Bellerin. The goal was the 30th Ozil has scored in the English top-flight, and it made him the most lethal German in front of goal in Premier League history, overtaking Jurgen Klinsmann.
His creative abilities came to the fore after the break, as he was at the peak of his powers on the day, laying on a delightful defense splitting through ball for Bellerin who squared for Aubameyang to put the home side ahead.
The former Germany international was withdrawn in the ding embers of the match to a fully deserved standing ovation from the crowd, and if he can keep up with this form, Arsenal could match up with anybody.
#2 Arsenal could be up for something big this season
Arsenal embarked on a new era following the departure of Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman had spent 21 years in the dugout for the club. He left in rather acrimonious circumstances, as a decline in performances by the club led to fans mounting campaign for the 68-year-old to leave the club.
Unai Emery arrived in the summer, and not many expected too much from him, given his relatively untested levels on the biggest stage (bar his underwhelming spell with PSG), while the club’s comparatively low-key transfer activities meant that Arsenal was seen as not capable of competing with the Manchester United clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Those predictions seemed like they were coming to pass, as The Gunners began their campaign with consecutive defeats to Man City and Chelsea in matches which the North London side were totally outclassed and roundly defeated.
Changes were needed and Unai Emery made the decision to start Aubameyang and Lacazette together, and this tactical tweak has reaped immense dividends as the club has gone on a winning run of 10 matches consecutively in all competitions.
The Gunners find themselves in fourth place just two points off the top, and despite being ruled out before a ball was kicked in anger; they could right now be in with an outside shot for the Premier League title.
#1 Aubameyang proving worth every penny spent to get him
After catching the eye of scouts around the world with his performances for S t Etienne in the French League, Aubameyang transferred to Borussia Dortmund in Germany, and it is in the Bundesliga where he boosted his reputation as a world-class striker.
The Gabonese international scored 98 goals in just 144 league appearances for the Signal Iduna outfit, including the record-breaking haul of 31 in 32 in the 2017 season which won him the Bundesliga Golden Boot award.
The 28-year-old possesses pace in abundance, is strong in the air and a composed finisher. So it, therefore, came as a surprise that he wasn’t more actively pursued by Europe’s bigger clubs.
When Arsenal showed genuine interest in signing him in January of 2018 after half-hearted approaches in the past, and Aubameyang went all out in his bid to force through a move, with Dortmund holding out until an Arsenal club record fee of £56m was paid on deadline day of the transfer window.