All Guns Blazing: Why Arsenal signing Ozil can fill void left by Fabregas
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Arsenal fan Alex Bellotti discusses Mesut Ozil’s record-breaking arrival at the Emirates from Real Madrid.
What a difference a week makes. Last Thursday, with the looming prospect of the north London derby and even less money spent than usual, it was a horrid time to be an Arsenal fan.
Days later, buoyed by a disciplined victory over Tottenham, the entire mood of the club was transformed in a manner not seen since the signing of Dennis Bergkamp nearly two decades ago.
So happy was I with the signing of Mesut Ozil that my bemused colleagues were greeted with slices of chocolate cake on Tuesday morning. This was not just any cake either - this was Marks and Spencers cake.
Now forgive this fudged analogy, but I think there’s a parallel to be drawn here. In the wake of Arsenal’s record transfer, reaction from pundits turned a bit Marie Antoinette. All summer the Fleet Street elite had been crying for bread and when Wenger finally emerged from his ivory tower, they were instead given cake. Glorious, freshly-baked kuchen.
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Do Arsenal need the German, or was he a luxury signing paving over the fact that the squad’s basic needs were not met? The answer to both questions, I’d argue, is yes.
The landmark signing of Ozil fills a void that hasn’t been properly addressed since the departure of Cesc Fabregas two years ago, even by the undoubtedly exceptional Santi Cazorla.
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Wenger’s tendency to play our star Spaniard on the wing hints that he sees him more as an attacking midfielder than a playmaker – a fair assessment.
Technically, Cazorla is possibly even better than Fabregas, but with Ozil we have one of the few players in the world who can finally match the latter’s rare vision and increase the surprisingly small number of chances we create each match.
Arsenal’s style this season seems to have changed from possession-based to counter-attacking, indebted more to modern Germany and the Invincibles than Barcelona.
With Ozil at the helm, we potentially have a more mobile Fabregas able to take advantage of a matured, deeper defence and industrious midfield to launch attacks from our half in the blink of an eye.
However exciting that could be though, failing to find another striker in three months still seems inexcusable.
Perhaps Wenger feels that, with Ozil able to feed them balls in a plate (in a strictly non-bush tucker trial sense), Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski might become more viable options up front.
In truth, it still seems crucial to return to the hunt in January’s transfer window.
Mathieu Flamini looks a vocal and useful addition, while Emiliano Viviano and Yaya Sanogo seem more vintage Wenger gambles. Ozil, however, is a world-class statement of intent and, to move forward, we need to use his star influence off the pitch as well as on it.
Follow me on Twitter @AlexBellotti