Belfast Telegraph

Mesut Ozil's patience could prove key in tracking down Leicester's pacesetters

Arsenal and Leicester go head-to-head in the Barclays Premier League at the Emirates on Sunday with the Gunners trying to chase down the shock leaders.

Leicester pair Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez and Arsenal's Mesut Ozil are currently the three bookies' favourites to win the Professional Footballers' Association's Player of the Year award and Press Association Sport looks at the impact they have had this season.


Vardy, the bookies' favourite for the PFA crown, has taken the Barclays Premier League by storm and his 18 goals have been worth a huge 19 points to the Foxes.

Without them Leicester would be 10th on 34 points while Mahrez has also delivered the goods in big games, scoring twice in their win at Everton, netting against Chelsea and in their stunning 3-1 victory at Manchester City on Saturday.

Four of Ozil's six strikes this season have come in the league but, outright, his goals have earned just a point.

His effort in the 1-1 draw at Norwich scraped something from Carrow Road and he opened the scoring in Sunday's 2-0 win at Bournemouth but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's second ensured the Gunners would have won anyway.


While Ozil may not have scored as many his 16 assists have ensured Arsenal have their best shot at the title for years. He is also closing in on Thierry Henry's record of 20 assists from 2002-03.

The German has become Arsenal's crown jewel after initially being criticised for being slow to adapt to English football following his £42.5million move from Real Madrid in 2013.

There is little doubting the importance of Vardy and Mahrez to Leicester's set up with Vardy starting every league game this season.

Mahrez's 10 assists and 14 goals in the league, and his understanding with Vardy, who has three assists of his own, means the Algeria winger, much like Ozil, provides Leicester's ammunition.


It is likely to be full throttle versus patience when the three face each other on Sunday. Vardy's all-action style is unique in the top flight where strikers usually look to conserve their energy for the clear chances which may come their way.

His relentless match-winning performance against Liverpool, where he scored one of the goals of the season by beating Simon Mignolet with a stunning 30-yard half volley, saw him demolish Dejan Lovren.

Mahrez's skills and pace has enhanced Leicester's counter attacking style and they frighten teams with their ability to play on the break.

Ozil and Arsenal are more precise but can be just as explosive - as they showed when they routed the Foxes 5-2 in September - but the World Cup winner has previously said the Gunners' technical play is one of the reasons he moved to the Emirates.


From Belfast Telegraph