Andrew Mangan of Arseblog hails the arrival of Mesut Ozil to North London and argues why the German midfielder can be the missing link for Arsenal…
The injury suffered by Tomas Rosicky while away on international duty is unfortunate for both the player and Arsenal, but in the short-term it means the chances of Mesut Ozil starting this weekend for Arsenal are greatly increased.
I mean, you don’t pay £42.5m for a substitute, but Arsene Wenger might have wanted to ease him in, ever so slightly, to English football. The Arsenal manager has the option of deploying Jack Wilshere in the Rosicky role, with Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini behind, but the temptation to use Ozil from the off must be huge. People will suggest that he’ll need to be eased into English football and given time to get used to life in the Premier League, but I really don’t think that’s an issue.
Clearly there are differences between the game in Spain and in England. The physicality and intensity of the Premier League is something most players have to get used to, but the reality is the best players adapt quickly and without any real problems.
No ‘cold night in Stoke’ nonsense, please
It’s true that some might take time to acclimatise, but Arsenal fans need only look at Santi Cazorla to see how quality is the most important factor. On paper, the Spaniard was the perfect candidate for the player who finds the culture change hard to deal with. He’d played his entire career in Spain, he’s small, and the lazy pundits made that awful ‘cold night in Stoke’ comparison when he came to cold, rainy England from sunny all year Malaga.
Instead, he was Arsenal’s only ever-present in the league last season and, by some distance, their best attacking player. He showed that talent and ability are the best weapons in a new league and a new country, and I expect the same from Mesut Ozil. Even if the Stadium of Light proves to be way different from the fare he’s used to at the Bernebeu and beyond, he’s more than able to cope with it.
You only need to have watched the player fleetingly over the last few seasons to know what he’ll bring to this Arsenal team. Since the departure of Cesc Fabregas they’ve been sorely lacking a creative player in the final third. The form and ability of Robin van Persie made up for it in the season after the Catalan’s departure, but in the last campaign Wenger’s team was crying out for somebody who could see a pass, spot a run, and change a game.
Ozil lightens the load on Cazorla
As they scrapped their way to a series of narrow victories which eventually saw them finish fourth, the presence of a genuine playmaker, somebody who can pick a hole through the opposition’s packed defence, would have made life a lot more comfortable. In Ozil they’ve finally got that player. There was too much onus on Cazorla to produce. Lightening that load may free up the Spaniard to create even more, and the idea of him and Ozil working together in the final third is one that is hugely exciting.
It will mean that the deeper lying midfielders, like Flamini, Wilshere and Ramsey, will have to work hard to provide them that platform but they’re players for whom those kind of displays are a matter of course. They won’t have to adapt the way they play to accommodate the German who should integrate and become integral to Arsenal’s style of play almost straight away.
The Stadium of Light hasn’t been an easy place for Arsenal to visit in recent seasons. They last time they won there by more than one goal was at the end of the 2005-6 season and before the deadline day signing you’d have put money on it being another difficult day for the Gunners.
Ozil’s arrival should change that, just as his arrival has changed the Arsenal landscape.
It’s a start, but Arsenal need more signings to compete
In the short-term it makes the team better, that much is obvious, but with the signing itself the club have sent a message to the rest of Europe that they’re ready to spend and compete with the best teams for the best players. North London would not have been a likely destination for him at the beginning of the summer, but now his arrival makes Arsenal a more attractive proposition to players of that calibre.
It’s taken a long time for them to get to the point where such a purchase could be made – and let’s remember it was done without the input of oligarch or oil money. While they can still improve, the message it sends is hugely positive. It reinvigorates the fanbase who have been clamouring for this kind of signing and adds real quality to the team.
Whether it’s enough in itself for Arsenal to fully compete for the top prizes this season remains to be seen, the likelihood is that further purchases in January would be necessary for that, but it’s a great big step in the right direction.