Late last Tuesday night, Arsenal shocked the footballing world with the transfer of Mesut Özil from Real Madrid for roughly £42m. This had Arsenal fans going wild, Real Madrid fans devastated, Barcelona fans relieved, and fans of the other Premier League clubs quaking in their boots.
Short Outlook on Mesut Özil
Not only has he come from one of the world’s best clubs, he also has the ability to back it up. Despite predominately being an attacking midfielder, Özil’s crossing is one of his finest attributes with him also being able to play down the right wing. He is also an extremely competent set-piece taker (which should be good news for us fans as anything is better than a Walcott corner!) Jokes aside, he can also take a sterling free-kick, which adds him to the list of other dead-ball specialists including Podolski, Arteta and Cazorla. The German International is also a prolific dribbler with the playmaker often too quick-footed for defenders. His finest attribute is perhaps Wenger’s favourite in a player: his passing – be it short, long, low or in the air, Özil can pick out passes that 99.9% of footballers wouldn’t have the vision to find and his assist total speaks for itself: 163 assists in 307 games – a total better than the infamous midfielder Andres Iniesta – and on top of this, he has also netted 57 goals (that’s 1 goal in every 6 games).
Quotes on Mesut Özil
“He [Ozil] is a great player, with proven quality at both club and international level. We have watched and admired him for some time as he has all the attributes I look for in an Arsenal player” – Arsène Wenger
“Every time he gets the ball, he does fantastic things with it. The fans love him for it and I love him too.” – José Mourinho
“We talk about Mesut Ozil, we’ll see, this is a world-class player, a technical player who can adapt to Arsenal” – Laurent Koscielny
“It’s very exciting. I played against him for England Under-21s, he showed his qualities then and he has showed them since. He’s a great addition and personally I’m looking forward to playing alongside him.” – Theo Walcott
“This is great, for me, for Arsenal and for English football” – Lukas Podolski
Arsenal team with Özil
Here we see Arsenal’s strongest team in white, with the back up for each position in purple underneath.
Goalkeepers: It is no surprise that although Viviano has been brought in on a season-long-loan, Szczesny is still rightfully number 1, but this does not mean bringing in the Italian keeper was a mistake.
Last season, Szczesny had a below-par season by his standards and made a number of mistakes, but knew he wouldn’t be dropped because he is far better than Fabianski and the now departed Vito Mannone. Whereas with Viviano, both goalkeepers are similar ability which means both will be pushing for the no.1 jersey and should Szczesny make a mistake, the on-loan goalkeeper will be first to stake his claim to come into the squad.
Defence: The position where many fans thought we should have added depth, and whilst I agree, last season we did have the second best defence in the league behind Manchester City.
At right-back we have Bacary Sagna who many expected to be moving on this summer but was spared by his desire to stay, and behind him we have his understudy Carl Jenkinson, both of whom like to roam forward when possible but maintain defensive shape when off the ball well. The depth and quality here meant we didn’t need to acquire another right-back
On the other side we have Kieran Gibbs – a quick but solid left-back from our state-of-the-art youth academy. The number 2 is Nacho Monreal – signed from Malaga in January as we finally let Santos go. He lacks the pace and aggression that makes Gibbs as good as he is, but nevertheless the Spaniard provides good cover, and once more meant we didn’t need to add another full-back.
In the two centre-back spots we are currently blessed with the partnership that keeps on giving in Koscielny and Mertesacker. The pairing was influential in the 2-0 away win at the Allianz Arena which proved in vain unfortunately. Behind the renowned two is Vermaelan, made captain last season but failed to recapture is form and was justly dropped. But the Belgian still remains as satisfactory cover, and can put pressure to become first choice again. Also we have Bacary Sagna who is our right back but showed in a few brief appearances last year that he is worthy enough to play in the middle of the defence should there be any injuries or suspensions.
The majority of fans were crying out for a marquee defensive midfielder to be signed, and when Flamini rejoined Arsenal on a free transfer many supporters felt underwhelmed. However, I believe it was actually clever business: Wenger favours ball-playing defensive midfielders rather than big, robust characters, so bringing in a Fellaini-type player was always unlikely. Whereas with Flamini, Wenger has peace of mind that he knows he won’t wander forward carelessly and offers a disciplined defensive performance which is what made him a fans favourite in his original spell with Arsenal. First choice in those two positions are Wilshere and Ramsey: Both part of the British core and incredibly talented, the latter has improved tenfold in the last year and warrants his starting place just in front of Arteta who despite his consistency over the last two years will probably and unluckily drop to the bench.
On the right wing we have Theo, who has made the position his own in recent years and with the big contract hanging over his head, he’ll be hoping to keep his place with young prodigy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain behind him ready to take his position should his form dip, however the 20-year-old’s dad does hope his son will become a central midfielder, but appearances elsewhere in midfield will be few and far between.
On the left wing will be Cazorla, not in his natural position admittedly but the Spaniard will most likely be deployed in that position, due to a certain £42m German International stealing his position. Despite him preferring to play in the middle, he still continues to operate admirably and will most likely be interchanging and swapping positions with Özil throughout the game to exploit space and create more chances. Podolski will become number 2 for this position with the German still very much a huge part of the squad and his versatility means he can also play up-front.
In the middle is Arsenal’s new star: Mesut Özil – a passing maestro who is arguably the best number 10 in the world. The unfortunate man to be playing second fiddle to the former-Real Madrid man is Tomas Rosicky – the Czech international is technically unbelievable but his Arsenal career has been plagued by injury which has hindered his progress greatly.
With Olivier Giroud fit and firing, many are predicting that the Frenchman will go on to beat his total of 11 league goals, however another striker should have been bought with our only backup out-and-out strikers being Niklas Bendtner – disloyal, poor record and doesn’t suit our style, Yaya Sanogo – one for the future but currently untried and shouldn’t be thrown into Premier League games this young, Chuba Akpom – also untested and questions mark surround him as to whether he’ll make it at Arsenal. We can also throw Podolski and Walcott up top but both of them aren’t natural number 9’s.
I don’t want to start rambling on about the next transfer window, but I’d like to see two new additions for sure and potentially a third. First and foremost we need another striker, one who’s better at dribbling and is quick to give us another outlet that’s different to Giroud. We also need another defensive player, one who is ideally versatile and can play in defence and defensive midfield, but should we not be able to find someone suitable we may need two players to cover it instead.
This looks to be a huge turning point for Arsenal and one can only hope that we have an outstanding season.
As ever, Up the Arsenal!
By Cain Bennett