More than a week has passed since the last Arsenal match and I’m only updating the blog today. Combination of many things, not least my own laziness have contributed to the lack of update. So, what has happened in between? North London remained red and we’ve added a supremely talented individual who doesn’t need maturing.
I hold my hands up and admit that I was jealous at the work that Tottenham have been doing in the transfer business up until the last day of the window. That they have seen the justification to replace one Gareth Bale which a group of players of certain qualities. A ploy which we used to good effect last season when 3 players were brought in to replace the contribution of one former captain. Yet, lest we forget, there were other departures from our football club which went un-replaced.
Let’s put a couple of things straight. Every single player whom they signed are not on the same level as Bale (yet) and they will not match Bale’s contribution individually. However, what they have now are a squad of equal quality and sufficient numbers so that injuries or suspensions will not cause them to turn from good to a bad team. That’s precisely what we’re lacking at the moment.
During that North London Derby, we saw what we knew beforehand. That our first XI is capable of matching up an expensively assembled squad and on our day, even beat the best that Europe could offer. Olivier Giroud produced a performance that highlighted his improved understanding with the rest of his team. Aaron Ramsey continue his superb start to the season while the Laurent Koscielny/Per Mertesacker wall remained as solid as it can be.
Any match which sees us having less of the possession than the opposing team is a match which does brilliant things to one’s heart condition and blood pressure. Our passing were sloppy and possession were conceded a bit too easily for my liking. Despite that, it is hard to find any particular passage of play where we got caught out defensively as a unit. While an individual player may be caught up field or allowing an opponent to get on the blind side, the team defended well as a unit. Players slotting in when a team mate does the things in the previous sentence.
That term is “goals win games but defence wins championships” isn’t it? Maybe we’re not quite at that level yet.
Even with the derby win, most of us were dreading the day that comes after that. The transfer deadline day. All summer, we’ve been fed news about how we have shifted the paradigm in terms of our financial power and we’re going to flex it all over Europe. That we’re going to supplement the squad to enable us to challenge for the league title, a feat that we’ve been unable to do since Mathieu Flamini was last in the team. Having hope all summer long that we’ll rope in a couple of high quality players, I wasn’t going to put my hopes up for the last 24 hours of the window.
I was wrong and it happens, we got Mezut Özil.
What a coup that was. The high that was felt when his name first got linked to us that fateful Monday last week. Given our history with signing big names and how we have not challenged for trophies in a few years, there’s little indication that a player of his ilk will want to join us from the plethora of choices available out there. Add to that, Wenger’s history of spending over £20M or the lack of it, I have to admit that I wasn’t confident. But there were other factors in play, not least the Bale situation and/or the Isco situation.
To get Özil is a game changer for us. It’s a game changer for the club and the manager. They will see the impact that this one particular deal have on the fans and media. There’s definitely less criticism from the latter. As for the former, the way we’ve all lapped up every single Özil serving that the club gave, is indication enough. Every words, picture and video about him that came through the club media is shared and repeated from one end of the Earth to the other.
In a discussion with Gooner in Japan, here’s the list we came up with on the other impacts,
1. Attraction to other big names – In any negotiation with any player for future transfers, the negotiators need to bring a photo of Özil in an Arsenal shirt.
2.Attraction to sponsors – According to workers at the Arsenal stores, Özil printing and shirts are flying off the rack. The increased in revenue would not be overlooked by the money people. Spend some f…king money on umlauts!
3.Mentors for the younger players – Players like Gedion Zelalem and even Jack Wilshere will prosper and be able to learn from one of the best playmaker in the game today. Hopefully, both or more players will go on and better themselves.
4. Gives more freedom to Cazorla – The little Spaniard has been our most creative player and thus receives extra attention from the opposition. With Özil in the side, the attention is at least divided equally hence a little more room for each to operate.
5. Making others better – Essentially, that is what Fabregas did to those around him. The ability to to know how to use the players around him. How to get the best out of their individual capabilities. That is what Özil has been able to do in the past with his Germany and Real Madrid team mates.
I have no doubts in my mind that Özil will be one of the first names on the team sheet. It’s not that his price dictates that he plays every game but it just wouldn’t make sense to break our transfer record just to sign a benchwarmer. One player will have to be sacrificed and I think that the man who has been the reason for our second half of the season surge, will be drop. Tomas Rosicky has done as much as everyone else to drag us over the line to 4th place in the last 2 seasons but will be my pick to make way.
Assuming Cazorla stays wide, there’s only the most advanced attacking midfield role available to Özil. It makes no sense to have both of them in the middle because we would be overrun. Also to have both of them wide, would make our game narrow as neither are real wingers and tends to cut back inside. Theo Walcott and to a certain extent, those like Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain / Serge Gnabry / Ryi Miyaichi would ensure that we maximize the space made available to our two most creative players.
So, on to Sunderland then. Paolo Di Canio now on charge and he’s probably the biggest name in the squad even though he has long since retired from being a player. There are no names that should strike fear into Arsenal hearts. Although, if can score spectacular goals like they did against Newcastle last term, there are little that can be done. As long as we play our game and play it at 100%, 3 points is the minimum we get out this match.
All the good work done since that opening day defeat, will go down the drain is we drop any points today. While we’ve been placed in a tough Champions League group and we have a game in midweek, all there is to concentrate now is the Sunderland one. The rest can come later. I don’t or rather hope that Wenger doesn’t take it lightly by making switches here and there. Every point earned will count at the end of the season.
Happy seeing Özil in yellow and blue.
Up The Arsenal!!