Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has revealed that he models his game around French legend Zinedine Zidane, who is regarded as one of the best players in football. Ozil has reached extraordinary heights this season, assisting 13 goals thus far in only 15 appearances and is set to lead the Gunners to their first league title in over a decade.
The Gunners will take on Manchester City on Monday, 21 December, where a win will take the former to within two points of league leaders Leicester City. With Arsenal going through an injury crisis, as seven players are currently out of action, Arsenal's fate rests on the shoulders of Ozil, who has finally come to life after two lackadaisical years at the club since joining in 2013. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that he can emulate Zidane's influence on the pitch, who has been the main figure during his stint at Real Madrid.
"Zidane was one of my idols, a player I looked up to and learnt from and I wanted to do the same as him," Ozil told the Times. "When he did tricks, I wanted to do the same. I always admired Zidane. He was a very down-to-earth person."
"I watched how he did his passes. He didn't do tricks for the sake of it. He never wanted to show off. He just played a clever game. He's the player who decides games. I watched his technique and tried to do that in my game, and a lot of times it worked."
The midfielder also talked about Arsenal's chances in the Champions League, where they have been drawn against defending Champions Barcelona in the round of 16. The Gunners have not progressed beyond this stage on the last five occasions and given the form the Catalans are in, it looks like a tall order yet again for the north London club. However, Ozil has different plans for the encounter and hopes to put in a similar performance like they did against Bayern Munich when they overcame the German Champions 2-0 at the Emirates.
"Barcelona are the hardest team in the world to play against," he added. "Barcelona are the best team at the moment in the world. We know that. But as a player I look forward to encounters like this. For me it is important to have these big games, it's nice to play against the best teams, to compete with them is a big opportunity for us.
"We respect Barcelona but they will respect us too. We beat Bayern Munich at home. We are not afraid of Barcelona. We just need to play our game and we can beat them. There is no fear. In football everything's possible. It is a tough match but I don't think our defenders were afraid after the draw. It's a big opportunity for them to prove themselves against the best attack in the world, players like Suárez, Messi, Neymar. It will be an exciting game, with the possibility of lots of goals, but it's not like we are afraid," he said.