Well that was certainly a surprise Mr. Wenger, I will give you that. For many Gooners, it’s been a difficult, almost unbearable transfer window. There have been statements from Gazidiz that people believed to be PR work, there has been silence from Monsieur Wenger and there has been unrest and discontent from the fans and the media. But now that everything is done and dusted and we can look at the squad as a whole, what do we think?
Let’s begin with our new Italian goalkeeper; I for one am a huge fan of Szczesny and believe he will someday be world class, or at the very least a very good goalkeeper. He has an air of confidence about him that neither Almunia or Fabianski possessed, many may see this as an undesirable trait but for me it allows Sir Chez to have conviction in his beliefs. He won’t stop coming for crosses or yelling at his defenders if he’s dropped a clanger, it’s a quality that world class goalkeepers need. As much as I like him, I think most fans would say he needed competition or at least someone to guide him a little bit more, an old hand who could teach him the tricks of the trade. For me I think Wenger has done a shrewd piece of business, he has brought in a 27 year old international, who has played in a top European league. He will be ready to compete straight away and push Szczesny to his limit. The fact that we have loaned someone rather than bought is a fairly important detail. I think it shows that ultimately Wenger is placing his faith in the young Pole for the foreseeable future but has brought in someone in order to ensure he doesn’t drop his work rate. 8/10
With Arteta and the Ox picking up two fairly severe injuries it was pretty foreseeable that Flamini would get a contract after training with the squad over the summer. I have no problem with this; in fact I am very pleased to see him back. He is a vocal player who marshals the team well and whilst he wasn’t an outstanding success with Milan he is still a high quality player with a lot of European experience. He has played with and against some amazing players in an extremely tough league. He offers us versatility, doggedness and a never say die attitude. When defending a lead, he and Ramsey will offer bundles of energy, tackling and will harass midfielders up and down the country. I am also confident that he can man mark the small diminutive playmakers who cause us so much trouble, i.e. Mata, Silva, Coutinho etc. He is in no way a direct replacement for Arteta, in fact with him in the team we will probably have to change our playing style but I don’t think he will start too many games with the likes of Wilshere, Rosicky and Ramsey occupying that position and Arteta to return. Again I think this has been a shrewd bit of business and one that will pay dividends. 8/10
Yaya Sanogo, what can I really say about the young man? He’s young, raw and injury prone. But Wenger obviously has an eye for young attacking players from France so who knows. We got him on a free so whilst I wouldn't include him in our first team plans, even with only one real recognized centre forward I don’t think we can argue too much about the transfer. 5/10
Like Wenger I saved the best for last, the piece de resistance, the man that has transformed this transfer window from a complete failure into a success.
Firstly, let me just state that as a young man, I had almost instant gratification when I began supporting Arsenal back in 98. I was not subjected to long years without trophies or title challenges until recently. I didn't really recognize the significance of the Bergkamp signing because of how young I was and my interest in football was in its fledgling years. Now that I am a bit more informed I realize how big a statement it was for a club of our stature to sign a player of his quality; with that in mind I feel the Ozil signing has the potential to change the reputation and perception of Arsenal football club. In my eyes it is the biggest transfer of the summer, I believe him to be a better player and one with more potential than any of the other high profile transfers that have taken place this summer. Wenger has many detractors but I think this transfer has as much to do with him as it does with the mega bucks we’re spending on him. He obviously sold Arsenal to Ozil, he demonstrated the unwavering faith he has in his players and possibly his plan to build a team around the German playmaker. At 24, he is essentially a player for the future and for right now! I also believe that Lukas ‘Aha’ Podolski and big Per must have been in his ear about it as well.
What does a player like Ozil offer us? Well first off there’s the intangible feeling of excitement he brings to the club, the feeling that we are now back at the top table dining with the big boys. We've worked for this for almost 10 years, this is the reason we moved to the Emirates. Whilst we have some pretty good players in the shape of Cazorla, Sagna and even Ramsey (loving the Rambo right now) this is the first genuine world class talent we have signed since Bergkamp.
But what will he bring to the pitch I hear you ask. I don’t want to talk about statistics as they have been well documented. I want to describe his attributes as best I can but it’s hard to do so without comparing him to another player. I don’t want to say he is the next Zidane, Maradona etc as I don’t think there are many players out there like him, either now or in the past.
Rather I prefer to talk about the attributes he possesses. He plays as an attacking midfielder but not like a diminutive Spaniard such as Mata or Cazorla, he is a lot more direct. One of his key strengths is his ability to break into the box at the right time to finish moves off, ala Freddy Ljungberg style. He times his runs perfectly and loves to finish flowing moves off; with Cazorla’s ability to find a pass, Giroud’s strong link up play and the nature of our style of football this could prove invaluable.
But his strength is not constrained to his timing of his runs; his ability to find that killer pass, whether it be a disguised slide rule pass, an audacious back heel which he seems fond of or a beautiful weighted through ball with the outside of his boot, his passing will be a key facet in the way we play. I imagine that his ability to slip the ball through the defence will see Walcott finding himself on the score sheet a lot more. Whether he plays on the left and drifts inside or plays in the number 10 role which I suspect he will, Walcott’s movement and width will provide little pockets of space for him to pick up the ball and find that pass that will unlock defences; something which Fabregas was earmarked for.
His work rate is also exceptional; I mentioned his powerful running earlier but I neglected to point out that in Ramsey, Flamini and Ozil, we have three bustling centre midfielders who have so much energy that they could run teams into the ground. In recent seasons Wenger has tried to adopt a high pressing game to various degrees of success, it seemed that Rosicky was the only one who seemed to have the knowledge and know-how of how to play it and with his poor injury record it was hard to rely on him; now with Ozil coming in I see it being a more viable option.
It is a hugely exciting signing and one that signals an evolution of Arsenal football club. 10/10
A quick word on the rest of the squad; I love that we have gotten rid of so much deadwood. For me it is an indication that Arsenal will not accept mediocrity anymore, we are out for the best players and whilst we have the big bucks we will not spend mega money on players who are not world class such as we’ve done in the past with Arshavin, Wiltord (although I liked him) and Reyes. It is disappointing that we didn’t add a bit of competition to our CF position and we didn’t bring in at least one more defender but hey if we had did all that then we would have nothing to complain about.
Till next time,
Mean Lean's Response
Thank you for the article, I can feel your excitement and I am sure everyone who reads has the very same excitement.
Here is something I wrote on August 16th when the only new player was Yaya Sanogo.
I don't know why transfers haven't happened yet, I wish they would have. I wish we have bought in early July, had the players training with their team mates and adapting to the Arsenal way of playing the game. That would have been ideal but for whatever reason, that has not happened. But here is the thing, if we do not lose a host of first team players and we pick up where we left off last season by stringing wins together and come the end of the window we have brought in the players we want then I couldn't give a monkeys that we have not added to the squad yet.
The season does not start and end with the game tomorrow or before September 2nd. In my humble opinion, I feel that too many people are going a little overboard with the fact that we have not made the signings we need. Surely this only becomes an issue if a) we are starting a team that has never had the chance to play together, b) too young or c) the worst of all lose regular games putting a massive dent in our season. Why are we reaching the worst case scenario so quickly? It is almost like going into half time level or even a goal down then spending the whole of the break screaming that we will never win the game because we did not take advantage of our first half chances. How about waiting until full time before doing that? Who knows, we might get a stoppage time winner. In fact surely we are more than likely to get a stoppage time winner than not. Whatever happens, we will know come the final whistle.
As stoppage time winners go, I think Özil was a dribble around 8 players and then a chip over the keeper from the half way line. Yes we had lost to Aston Villa at home but I am not sure that the issue was a lack of players. Chelsea were fortunate to have beaten Aston Villa at home shortly after, ironically a refereeing decision aided them and cost Villa but we need not go into that again.
Since then we have added three new players to the squad. Mathieu Flamini, Emiliano Viviano and of course Mesut Özil. Many transfers happen at the end so I had faith that we would get something done eventually.
There’s no hiding the fact that Ozil is the stellar signing we were all after, and will drive the whole club forward in time. But, we also can’t hide Ozil and his slender frame. There is no hiding place in the Premier League, from player, referee or fan alike. Ozil has come from a slow paced league, with fantastic protection from referees over in La Liga, so his new home might provide a bit of a culture shock. Furthermore, if Wenger can get his world class fitness and nutrition experts who specialise in strength building and proteins such as those at Maxiraw shop to work their magic, Ozil will have the build to go with his abundance of skill in no time.
While we may not have every nut and bolt on our machine in place, we are looking very good indeed I'd say. Özil lifts us to another level and I just cannot wait until Sunderland away.