Arsenal is not a team normally known for scoring free kicks although that is not to say they don’t have the players with the required technique to score as evidenced by Mesut Ozil’s moment of brilliance against Liverpool that gave Mignolet no chance.
Ozil has often been singled out for unfair criticism, loved and hated in equal measure, but his impact has started to be felt as his confidence grows by the minute. His technique is superb and well suited to taking over free kick duties permanently. He has actually been taking most free kicks recently and before scoring against Liverpool, he had shaved the crossbar more than once against, I admit, opponents I cannot remember. His free kick against Liverpool will only greatly increase his confidence and I can only expect him to repeat the feat sooner rather later.
However, every Arsenal fan is well aware of Santi Cazorla’s ability in a dead ball situation. His free kick from a long way out against Hull City in the FA cup final last season gave Arsenal a lifeline that allowed us to claw our way back in to the game and win thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s late late winner. Wenger has admitted that free kick was one of the best he has ever seen not only because of the importance of the goal but because of the technique and distance from which it was executed.
After Cazorla’s free kick in the final, he became my favourite to take all our shots from deadball situations. However, he has not scored another one since. I was never convinced Ozil was a specialist as I felt his touch was too delicate. As I have watched Ozil take more and more free kicks, I have come to appreciate his skills and after the goal against Liverpool, the doubts have evaporated from my mind.
Free kicks offers teams a chance to grab a free goal so to speak so whoever takes the chance needs to make sure they count. Arsenal are on a roll and it can only get better from here on out to the end of the season.