On Sunday 1st September, having dominated Tottenham in the first half, Arsenal held on to beat their North London rivals 1-0 (I should mention that that was arguably the most stressful half of football in my life, so much so that my eighty year old cousin collapsed into my arms at the end). Whilst it did prove that the current squad was up to the task of securing Champions League football once more, the general consensus was that last years strong finish to finish fourth should inspire Arsenal to attract some world-beaters and therefore return to the days of Highbury and start winning trophies again.
Arsene Wenger said that Arsenal had a few ‘surprises’. Therefore Arsenal fans awaited transfer deadline day with baited breath amidst countless rumours of who was supposedly going to sign. Angel Di Maria, Abel Hernandez and Mesut Özil were touted as the main targets.
Özil was the one whom Wenger went after and throughout the day he was supposedly “one hour away from signing” and eventually he put pen to paper, much to the amazement of the German manager and Cristiano Ronaldo (not because they were surprised about him joining Arsenal, but the fact that Real Madrid would even dream of selling him).
As well as Özil, Arsenal made the much needed signing of a goalkeeper; Emiliano Viviano. The signing was much needed because Wojciech Szczesny was becoming too comfortable with no real challengers to the no.1 spot (apologies to Lukasz Fabianski), but there’s no hiding from the fact that the introduction of Mesut Özil was slightly more important.
According to various people (notably Niall Quinn), the signing of Özil was of a similar ilk to the signing of Dennis Bergkamp in 1995. Bergkamp transformed the club from a side which had finished twelfth the previous season, to one which finished fifth and then, once Arsene Wenger became manager third and then double winners in 1997/98. He transformed the team because he was able to pick passes that the rest of the world’s players could dream of and added many goals to the tallies of all the strikers he partnered (in fact, he made the career of once unconvinving winger Thierry Henry into one of the greatest strikers in the world).
Mesut Özil is the top assist provider of anyone in the last five years, and don’t expect him to stop now. What is so strange about Real Madrid’s willingness to sell him is that he never dipped dramatically in form (unlike Gonzalo Higuain) and was constantly providing for all of Madrid’s attackers, so much so that the German national manager claimed that he was Real’s second best player (behind Cristiano Ronaldo). Surely he can add another ten goals-a-season to Olivier Giroud and, possibly, Theo Walcott? If that were to be the case then Giroud would become one of the most prolific scorers in the Premier League (possibly touching the goals tally of Robin Van Persie)? I’m not suggesting that Giroud quite has the talent of RVP and Luis Suarez, but with the introduction of Özil’s ability to double the number of chances that he gets, he should be able to score an incredible number of goals. Furthermore, Özil will have experience of playing alongside Lukas Podolski, which will surely help bring Podolski back to the fantastic player he was a few years ago.
I do feel that Arsenal needed a few more players (as I talked about in my previous article on Arsenal); a centre-half and maybe a winger were definitely needed. In fact, most of us would feel that Özil’s position was the least scrutinised position in the team. However, a player of Özil’s calibre is always welcome and I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that should he play like he did at Real, he will bring this Arsenal team to a new level. I should add that Özil will be good for ten goals-a-season himself.
This deadline day was a real success for Arsenal. Not only will Özil transform the club in that they will be creating even more chances than they already do, but Viviano could help to transform Szczesny into one of the great goalkeepers which he has promised to be.
All I can say is; imagine if Robin Van Persie was playing in front of the current Arsenal midfield. He would’ve had Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla, and of course Özil providing for him. Instead he has Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick; players who have quality, but not really the calibre of the aforementioned players.
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