Shame on you, Premier League footballers. For sure, we can see why you went for the players you chose for the 2015/16 PFA Team of the Year: the wonderfully consistent sidewinder that is Riyad Mahrez, the mercurial genius of Dele Alli as he shone on England's top stage, and the exhilarating midfield marvel that is Dimitri Payet and his free-kick genius.
But you left out the Arsenal playmaker who broke a Premier League record this season: the most chances created in a league campaign.
Let's put that in perspective a second: Bergkamp, Henry, Cantona, Giggs, Beckham... Regi Blinker: none could match the Gunners' playmaker supremo as the innovative heartbeat of their team. That's more than anyone who has ever played in the Premier League (topping Frank Lampard's record of 134 in 2008/09).
Rack 'em up
In fact, the German schemer had already topped that record by the end of April. He finished the season creating 146 chances; just imagine if Arsenal had been able to take two-thirds of those. They wouldn’t have taken until the last day to scrape past Spurs, and surely have stopped Leicester winning the title with a Goals Scored record of 150 or so.
Whatever the relative merits and deficiencies of Arsenal’s forwards, Ozil more than did his job, creating more chances than any other player across Europe's top five leagues.
And what of his direct assists? Well, his tally of 19 fell just one short of the all-time record (20 – Thierry Henry in 2002/03), after laying on 31% of Arsenal's goals this season. The former Werder Bremen attacking midfielder may have only scored six times in the league (plus twice more in the Champions League), but who cares when you're making three times as many goals for your team-mates?
Given that Alli and Payet contributed to fewer strikes overall (through goals and assists), Ozil was involved in far more scores than all his competitors bar Mahrez, yet was excluded from the team of the year selection.
Now that Arsenal have taken second place in the league, isn’t it now time to recognise that the German was the outstanding creative attacking force this season? As is so often the case, the PFA voting coincided with the Gunners' poor run of form that fatally dented their title aspirations – just one win in the month of March, along with Champions League and FA Cup exits.
Whatever. The Gunners' string-puller created far more chances from open play than any other player in the league this season – some 93, with Payet and Alli both trailing on 63 and 53 respectively. In fact, a deserved mention for crosstown rival Christian Eriksen at this point: the Dane created 86 chances (the closest player to Ozil), and the Tottenham man also compared favourably when examining his pass-completion rate (81%) with Ozil's (an impressive 86%). Both Payet and Alli fell further behind here.
Maybe the German is not selfish enough. His paltry goal total and low number of attempted shots hint at a man willing to cast himself as the supporting act to the north London side's main man, be that Olivier Giroud or whoever else. Just 20 shots hit the target this season – a lower number than achieved by all his counterparts named here. Something to work on for next term...
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