Football

Arsenal's midfield strength poses new problems

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Arsenal finally got the marquee signing the fans have been clamouring for all summer late last night, with German international Mesut Ozil leaving Real Madrid for the Emirates in a £42.5m deal, which nearly trebles the club's previous transfer record.

Ozil's arrival in north London may delight Arsenal supporters and boss Arsene Wenger in equal measure, but will surely see at least one of the club's current crop of midfielders face reduced playing time this season.

Wenger has stubbornly refused to entertain the idea of paying for a holding midfielder during the close season, believing that his persistence with a three-man midfield packed with players comfortable in possession will pay dividends alongside the return of Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer.

While Ozil can operate in a variety of positions across midfield and in advanced wide areas, it remains to be seen how the Gunners will choose to use the schemer in a team which has become largely settled over the last six months.

Arsenal fans have been robbed of the chance to find out who Wenger views as his first-choice midfield during the early weeks of the campaign, with Mikel Arteta ruled out for more than a month so far by a torn quadricep.

Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere have been largely trusted to steady the ship in central midfield when fit, leaving either Tomas Rosicky or Santi Cazorla to forage further forward in support of lone striker Olivier Giroud.

Primarily Ozil likes to operate as an advanced central playmaker, dictating play and picking out precise passes in the final third which have found Cristiano Ronaldo with alarming regularity in recent seasons at the Bernabeu.

You have to feel that Wenger will make Ozil the focal point of his team, building his side around a linchpin proven at the highest level for both club and country.

That could mean a rejuvenated Tomas Rosicky suddenly finds chances restricted at the Emirates, despite finding the type of stellar form in recent months he has long threatened to produce on a consistent basis.

Getting the best out of Cazorla is also an interesting conundrum for Wenger. The Spanish schemer has been used both in a wide-left role and more centrally during his first 12 months in England, but a long-term injury to Lukas Podolski should solve that problem for now at least.

With Cazorla moved back to a wide-left role he flourished in for Malaga the battle is on to nail down one of Wenger's two remaining spots in the centre, with Theo Walcott's place largely secure on the right flank.

Wilshere would be most Arsenal's fans first choice in that position, but with Arsenal facing three games a week for much of the campaign huge questions marks still remain over his long-term fitness. Persistent ankle problems have blighted his progress over the last two years, allowing Arteta to get a regular and largely productive run in a more withdrawn, conservative role based on retaining possession.

Ramsey is another player who has forced his way back into the Arsenal team in the last six months, recapturing something like his best form with an all-action style full of drive and energy at both ends of the pitch at its most potent.

Add the returning Flamini and a perennially injured Abou Diaby into the mix as more defensive options and all of a sudden a much-maligned Arsenal squad has genuine competition for places in at least one key area.

Wenger is a manager with a proven track record of giving younger players the chance to thrive in his starting 11, but has bucked the trend in going for player primed to have an instant impact in Ozil.

Despite deficiencies in attack Arsenal now have options in midfield which should be the envy of the Premier League, but the likes of Rosicky, Ramsey and Arteta must settle for reduced playing time as a consequence of that strength in depth.

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Topics:
Football
Arsenal
Tomas Rosicky
Premier League

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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