Former Premier League star Jamie Redknapp has insisted Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil will be the key man in his side’s encounter with Chelsea on Sunday.
The Gunners sit top of the Premier League table ahead of the showdown this weekend, although Leicester City remain level on points with Arsene Wenger’s side while Manchester City are just a point behind.
Nevertheless, they will be confident heading into the clash with Guus Hiddink’s men given that they are on a five-game unbeaten run in all competitions, while Chelsea have yet to lose under the Dutchman since he replaced Jose Mourinho in mid-December.
Meanwhile, Ozil missed his side’s goalless draw with Stoke City last weekend, and Redknapp feels that his return will be crucial for the hosts.
“Managers preparing to face Arsenal will be concerned with stopping Ozil, who has been the key for them this season. Ozil is one of a few players which teams have to give special attention to,” he wrote in his Sky Sports column.
“You cannot let players of his quality have the freedom of the park because he will destroy you, that’s what he’s been doing to teams. If Matic and Mikel start, they have to attach themselves to Ozil because if they don’t he will be the one everyone’s talking about at full-time.”
Redknapp conceded that Chelsea have improved significantly since the arrival of Hiddink, both in terms of their overall play and results despite not being able to turn draws into wins on a consistent basis.
However, he is adamant that the midfield battle will be crucial to the outcome of Sunday’s game, and believes that the visitors will have to focus on stifling Ozil’s ability to dominate a game and make decisive contributions.
The Premier League champions remain in 14th place in the table, as they also continue to sit just four points above Newcastle United in 18th.