Imagine (and you may need to be creative here!) that Arsenal have miraculously made it to the Champions League final, and are up against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. The score is 2-1 to the Blues but they are down to nine men with two defenders sent off. Arsenal have won a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box and central in relation to the goal. It’s the 95th minute of five added minutes in stoppage time. Last kick of the game, with a potential Champions League trophy resting on this set piece. With Özil, Alexis and Cazorla all standing over it – who should step up?
Mesut Özil takes a deep breath. Why should he take it? As a calm man under pressure, he has proven on countless occasions this season, particularly in recent fixtures that his pin point accuracy can really test the keeper and, as demonstrated against Liverpool, find the back of the net. He obviously has a superb technique and, in games like Monaco and Newcastle, either been denied by impressive keeping or the woodwork. With his calmness under pressure along with his genuine ability and technique, Mesut Özil would be an appropriate choice.
Alexis Sanchez eyes the ball. Why should he take it? Early in the season, the Chilean was taking every set piece. His erratic style and unpredictability makes him a significant candidate in a situation like this, where nerves may take over. Having already scored an amazing free-kick earlier in the season against Southampton, that cracker into the top corner illustrated his eye for goal. His curl, dip and power gave the keeper no chance, and he has almost replicated that on several occasions (with Stoke in mind).
Santi Cazorla stands on his tip toes. Why should he take it? Having scored numerous free kicks during his time at Arsenal, he would be another popular choice – and my choice. His impressive technical ability on set pieces made him Arsenal’s principal freekick taker for two seasons. He has also proven that he can step up under pressure with that screamer in the FA Cup final. With such two footedness he also brings about that unpredictability factor of Alexis and merges it with the technique of Özil. His cutting edged accuracy also makes life very difficult for the goalkeeper, and he has proven that he can place as well as smash. That is why he’d be my free-kick man in the aforementioned situation, however unlikely it might be!