The signing of Mesut Ozil has sent a sudden surge of excitement shuddering around Arsenal football club. The gloomy, pessimistic nature of the mood previous to last weekend has been lifted quite significantly, with many fans branding it the most exciting signing Arsenal have made since Dennis Bergkamp. So the question is: what does this mean Arsenal can achieve this season?
Are we merely contenders for the top four or are we now title challengers? The January transfer window will be a factor in this, the marquee signing of Ozil will help attract other big name players should be stay in the Champions League until then. Therefore if Arsenal manage to lure a Suarez or a Rooney or even a Bender in winter then that could push Arsenal more into the territory of serious title contenders.
But for now I think we are hovering between the two. I think the side has improved from last season (when we finished 4th) whereas whilst Tottenham have spent big this summer, they have lost their best player and replaced him with unproven players in the Premier League in Lamela and Eriksen. A lot depends on how these signings start off, will Ozil hit the ground running? Will Lamela take a few months to settle? I think both North London clubs have improved this season but Arsenal are still better.
Additionally, the gulf between those 2 clubs and the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea is very small. Jose Mourinho branded Arsenal “title contenders” after we signed Ozil and when you compare his Chelsea side to Arsenal’s there’s very little difference in quality. An attacking midfield trio of Walcott, Ozil and Cazorla would rival any other team in Europe and Olivier Giroud is showing signs of significant improvement and has started the season on form.
However Arsenal’s lack of strengthening in the centre forward position could be what holds us back, if Giroud gets injured we could struggle for goals and a game with a plan B. Man City probably have the strongest squad, Chelsea and Arsenal’s are very similar and close and Man Utd I’d say at the moment are possibly 4th or 5th in the league in terms of quality of squad. Fellaini is a good addition but without Alex Ferguson still around to compensate for one of their weakest squads in 20 years, it’s hard to see them winning the league.
All 5 teams are very close in terms of quality in my opinion. Tottenham lack a bit of experience, Arsenal lack strength in depth in some areas and Chelsea might lack a regular goal scorer. Arsenal however last season showed a new quality in terms of grinding out wins. The team went on a great late season run that involved very few attractive performances but a lot of tight wins grinded out with resilience, know-how and defensive solidity. Not attributes you’d have associated with Arsenal over the last few years.
Therefore with our new found ability to grind out wins and the added world class quality of Ozil will prove Arsenal to be much improved from last season in my opinion. I also think the signing of Flamini is a very good one, he showed on Sunday his leadership, ability to protect the back four and ball winning qualities. He has a lot of experience and will prove to be a good signing this season. I cannot understand why that signing has been mocked more than anything, he was excellent before he moved the AC Milan a few seasons ago for Arsenal and showed on Sunday he doesn’t seem to have lost anything. He’s only 29 so he’s not over the hill and I think if someone like Ferguson or Mourinho had signed him they’d be praised for a “shrewd signing”.
So basically I think we’re still one or two players short of being able to win the league but we are outsiders with the current squad we have. If we are really unfortunate with injuries and key players like Wilshere, Giroud and Walcott suffer long spells on the sidelines, we could fail to finish in the top four. The line is that fine this season. Keep everyone fit and we can win the league, especially if we add well in January. I don’t think anyone has a significantly better first 11 than us, nor really a significantly better squad. Man City probably have the best and then the other 4 are really close
Mean Lean's Response
I cannot remember a time when the top places were so unknown.
Not only changes to management but also so many players in and out of clubs. Manchester City could walk the league or end up in third place. Manchester United could finish top playing in automatic yet they could flop under a new manager. I think Chelsea have a good shout of the top two, they will likely bore their way to the top. Which is strange to say when you look at how many talented creative players they have.
Oliver Giroud's injury record is supposedly very good so let us hope that continues to be the case. How far we go depends to a degree how much Giroud has improved this season. Clearly he is a better player now than he was at this time last season and you can only hope and expect that the arrival of Özil will improve him further. I do think that Bould and Wenger have found a middle ground that is benefiting us well now. Our attacking game has yet to reach it's peak in this newly designed Arsenal team so let us hope that we see the best very soon.
If we find ourselves in a position where everyone is fit then I am interested to know what team Arsene sees as his best.
In terms of balance I'd say that this side looks pretty impressive. Although I'd love to have Rosicky in there somewhere.
When you look at the rest of the squad, it perhaps tells you that we are stronger than some believe, even if we are not strong in all areas of the squad.
It could well be an exciting season ahead.