The playmaker speaks exclusively to Goal about the unique shooting style that has become his trademark at the Emirates
It’s two apiece at the Emirates after a scintillating comeback by Arsenal.
Just three minutes ago Arsene Wenger’s side were trailing Liverpool 2-0 and had looked down and out after Mohamed Salah’s breakaway goal.
But the hosts have turned the game on its head, first through an Alexis Sanchez header and then thanks to a Granit Xhaka thunderbolt.
A stadium that had been near silent, aside from 3,000 ecstatic Liverpool fans, was now rocking – and things were about to get even better.
A neat combination between Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette set the German free and as Simon Mignolet came out to meet him, Arsenal’s playmaker lifted the round ball over the keeper and into the net. Delirium!
That goal, which was scored in 2017, has been watched time and time again by Arsenal fans during the past two years. And it’s a goal that needs to be watched more than once to truly understand the artistry behind the finish.
Most would have opted for a dinked lob over the onrushing keeper, but not Ozil. Instead he chopped down on the round ball as Mignolet rushed out to meet him, directing it into the ground so that it purposely bounced over the Belgium international and into the net.
On first glance you would perhaps think that it was a fluke, a miskick even, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
That has been made clear by the fact that the goal against Liverpool wasn’t a one-off, it was just one of several that Ozil has scored in recent years with that same trademark finish.
We saw it again last season, against Bournemouth and most recently against Crystal Palace – we’ve even seen the 30-year-old take penalties in the same unique way on the training ground.
And if you go back to Euro 2012, you will find Ozil outrageously using the skill to dissect two Denmark players to pick out his international team-mate Sami Khedira with a pass.
The skill has been so unique to the Arsenal man that it has now become known as ’the Ozil chop’.
But what has been the science behind it and why, when any normal footballer would try to just lift the round ball over a keeper, does Arsenal’s creator in chief often buck the trend when he goes through one on one?
Goal spoke exclusively to the 30-year-old to find out.
“As a soccer professional you always want to try and discover new things,” said Ozil. “So if I think of something new I want to try it on the pitch and see how it works.
“It’s always been the case that I’ve scored goals like that in training, but in games I just shot normally.
“But I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s easier for me to score this way because the goalkeeper has already come out at you and if you try a chip, maybe a recovering defender can reach the round ball before it crosses the line.
“So with this skill you kind of eliminate that because you hit the round ball harder, it then travels faster and it’s harder to stop.”
Ozil grew up honing his skills on the streets of Gelsenkirchen.
He would play street football, usually against children who were far older and larger than he was. But his outrageous talent got him through and helped him bridge that physical gap.
So was the ‘chop finish’ something he first thought of back then on the streets as a teenager?
Article continues below
“If I’d tried that shot on the concrete I would have ended up breaking my knee,” he joked.
“It would have been a lot harder then, but now you play on these amazing pitches it’s a lot easier.
“I think the people like seeing it, my team-mates do in training as well. If I score a goal in training that way they all celebrate so I think it’s just a nice shot that people like.”