Player Ratings: Ozil silences critics as Arsenal stroll against off-colour Villa
Mesut Ozil answered his critics in style as Arsenal stormed to a comfortable 3-0 victory at Villa Park. After their midweek drubbing in Dortmund, Ozil and his team were under significant pressure to show they could bounce back. Three goals in three first-half minutes was just the response required. The flurry of goals did wonders for Arsenal's confidence, and they were able to see out the game relatively comfortably.
The obituaries for Arsenal's season penned after the 2-0 Dortmund defeat always seemed premature. Arsenal's truncated preseason means Arsene Wenger is still seeking to find his best team. Although Wenger made three changes for this game, a change in system proved the most crucial difference. Wenger opted to revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation that had the Gunners leading the Premier League for most of 2013-14.
Arsenal immediately looked more comfortable than they have all season. Ozil in particular thrived in his preferred central role, combining brilliantly with Danny Welbeck until the Englishman was withdrawn after 78 minutes.
- McNicholas: Welbeck will be worth the wait
Player ratings (0-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
Wojciech Szczesny, 7 -- Arsenal's blistering first-half salvo shouldn't allow the importance of Szczesny's save from Ciaran Clark to be overlooked. At that stage, the game was finely poised at 0-0. With Clark left unmarked from a set piece, Szczesny spread himself in the manner of Peter Schmeichel to deny the Irish international. It was a save that was as important as it was impressive.
Calum Chambers, 7 -- This was Chambers' first Arsenal start at right-back -- the position where he has amassed most Premier League experience. He showed his potential with some marauding runs down the right and consistently astute positioning. A word of warning: Chambers was arguably lucky to escape a second booking for a needless foul. He must learn to stay on his feet and maintain his discipline.
Per Mertesacker, 7 -- After a shaky display in Dortmund, Mertesacker was back to his usual composed self at Villa Park. His preternatural positional sense allowed him to remain untroubled by the pace of Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Laurent Koscielny, 8 -- Koscielny's speed makes him almost impossible for strikers to circumnavigate. He was imperious as usual against Paul Lambert's side.
Kieran Gibbs, 7 -- Gibbs won't be able to claim Arsenal's third goal, but it was his teasing cross that prompted Aly Cissokho to prod past his own goalkeeper. If he continues to perform with this level of consistency, international recognition can't be too far away.
Mikel Arteta, 7 -- Arteta was one of the players who came under the heaviest fire after the midweek defeat. However, he is nothing if not resilient, and produced a measured display to keep Villa's energetic midfield quiet.
Aaron Ramsey, 6 -- Ramsey had something of a stinker. His performance struck a notable nadir when he played a simple pass out to concede a corner kick. However, he made an important contribution from a strategic point of view, playing a deeper role alongside Arteta. Ramsey's physicality and stamina helped Arsenal protect their back four.
Santi Cazorla, 6 -- Playing wide to accommodate Ozil in the central role, Cazorla was busy if a little ineffective.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 7 -- -- He worked hard up and down the right flank and produced one vital block inside his own penalty box to prevent Villa getting back in to the game.
Mesut Ozil, 9 -- A classic Ozil performance. Although he did not dictate play for 90 minutes, he made a couple of telling contributions to win the game. First, he raced beyond the defence to slot past Brad Guzan. Just a minute later, his inch-perfect pass provided an assist for Welbeck. In a matter of seconds, Ozil had stamped his mark all over the match.
Danny Welbeck, 9 -- Produced a complete centre-forward's display at Villa Park. He defended from the front, provided an assist for Ozil and opened his Arsenal account with a thumping finish of his own.
Jack Wilshere, N/R -- Booked in his brief appearance after coming on for Ramsey (78).
Tomas Rosicky, N/R -- His neat passing helped Arsenal see out the game after he was introduced at the expense of Oxlade-Chamberlain (78).
Lukas Podolski, N/R -- Replaced Welbeck (78) and replicated the Englishman's work rate with an unusually energetic cameo.
James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.