Arsenal host Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 this week, as a very different animal to the side that limply fell to a comprehensive first leg defeat at the hands of the German side at the Emirates at the same stage this time last year.
The Gunners currently sit second in the Premier League, in the middle of their first meaningful title challenge in years, and have experienced 12 months of excellent form, partly sparked by victory in Munich during last year’s second leg.
One key battle for the headlines in this week’s repeat of last year’s fixture could be the match-up between the two side’s main summer signings. Whilst Arsenal were busy smashing their transfer record on Mesut Ozil last summer, Bayern snapped up a German international midfielder of their own in Mario Gotze. Despite Ozil’s patchy form in recent weeks, the two men are both likely to be key figures over the tie, each playing centrally behind a lone striker.
We take a look at how the duo’s stats match up.
Gotze has been in good goalscoring form throughout this season’s Champions League; a fact to which Manchester City attest. The German scored against City during their 3-2 victory in Munich during the last round of group game fixtures, adding to the two goals that he scored in other group game fixtures to bring his total to three goals in the competition – two ahead of his compatriot Ozil.
Ozil’s goal came during Arsenal’s second group tie with Napoli, but proved to be his only goal of the group stages. Whilst the goal was an excellent finish, he is behind Gotze in goalscoring in both Europe and domestically. Gotze has six Bundesliga goals this season, in fewer league games than Ozil, whereas the Arsenal man has four in the Premier League, albeit for a team that have scored nine goals fewer than free-scoring Bayern.
While Ozil’s performance level has dropped slightly in European competition – at least by Squawka Performance Score – Gotze has excelled in Europe this season, with an average performance score of almost 95 per 90 minutes spent on the pitch. He has averaged better than a goal per 90 minutes played in the Champions League this season and has on average created 3.1 chances during that time-frame.
He put in a man of the match performance against CSKA, completing 95% of his passes and scoring once. However, part of Gotze's better Champions League statistics per 90 minutes can be put down to the fact that he has had less time on the pitch than Ozil during the competition, meaning that a few good performances can skew them a little and that his domestic form should also be considered.
Yet, Gotze still edges many aspects of domestic form comparisons. He has a better performance score per 90 minutes than Ozil, goes past his man on more occasions and has a far better scoring record per game. Ozil fights back with the average number of passes completed and also easily beats Gotze with chances created per 90 minutes in the league.
The former Real Madrid man is integral to Arsenal's play, in a way that Gotze is perhaps not to Bayern. Aside from his status as the club's record signing, Ozil sees much of Arsenal's play go through him as the main creative force behind Olivier Giroud. He has created at least four times as many Champions League chances as any of his teammates.
Whilst Gotze may complete marginally more passes than his compatriot in the Champions League, he plays for a team that have made the second highest number of passes in the competition and so should be expected to have made more. Ozil has completed more passes in domestic competition per 90 minutes than Gotze and makes a higher percentage of his side's Champions League passes, reflecting the fact that he is crucial to Arsenal's play as an attacking force.
The two summer signings are difficult to separate statistically, and the comparison between two of Germany's array of attacking midfield players could prove an interesting subplot during this mouthwatering clash.