Football

Arsenal opinion: Ozil alone not enough to push to the next level

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Ozil joined Arsenal on deadline day. (©GettyImages)
Ozil joined Arsenal on deadline day. (©GettyImages).

After a rather eventful start to the 2013/14 campaign, Arsenal fans can be forgiven a little celebration after their club finally abandoned years of frustrating frugality in the transfer market and pulled off arguably the summer's most impressive coup in prising German playmaker Mesut Ozil from Spanish giants Real Madrid for a club record fee of £42.5 million.

Ozil's arrival has been greeted with excitement and sheer elation from supporters and players alike. After Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla, among others, had already noted their happiness at the 24-year-old's signing, promising right-back Kieran Gibbs was the latest current Gunner to join the chorus of praise for Ozil.

During a recent interview, Gibbs could barely contain his glee at a purchase that he believes will help the club to 'push on to the next level'. With Arsenal having been battling to simply retain their top-four status of late, that 'next level' would presumably refer to a possible title push.

I would argue, however, that Arsenal need far more than just Ozil to reach that sort of standard. The German is a tremendous acquisition for the club, there can be no mistake whatsoever about that. Following his move to Real from Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen in 2010, it would have been all too easy for him to falter amid the seemingly never-ending soap opera that engulfs the Santiago Bernabeu. 

This did not occur, however, and his considerable talent was fully showcased to Real's passionate support, who, much like several of the club's players, were apparently dismayed by Ozil's exit on deadline day. 

But as impressive a signing as Ozil undoubtedly is, Arsenal are in real need of further reinforcement and it certainly could be argued that they have actually strengthened a position that was perhaps not a priority. In a defensive capacity they appear worryingly light, with right-back Bacary Sagna deployed at centre-back on one occasion already this season. Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are a particularly solid partnership at the heart of the defence, but there is shockingly little strength-in-depth beyond that. 

The Gunners are also considerably lacking competition in the final third. While imposing Frenchman Olivier Giroud has enjoyed a particularly fruitful beginning to the new campaign after notching in all three Premier League encounters as well as in European competition against Fenerbahce, if he were to suffer a dip in form similar to the one that saw him become the subject of much criticism from the stands during his first season in North London, then Arsenal could find themselves in real trouble.

While German Lukas Podolski is currently sidelined through injury, only controversial and seemingly unwanted Danish frontman Nicklas Bendtner and the talented but noticeably raw Yaya Sanogo currently provide back-up to Giroud. 

Ozil is a real coup for Arsenal and his proven ability to create chances for others should see him flourish at the Emirates Stadium. His position alongside Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla in particular should provoke fear throughout the top flight. 

However, any talk whatsoever of a potential title push is exceedingly premature. Wenger's decision to effectively forgo his deeply unpopular transfer strategy has been met with a hearty mix of relief and jubilation, but he must now prove that this was not just a one off and that he fully intends to continue to spend the considerable sums that now appear to have been made available to him.

It will take far more than just Ozil if Arsenal are to successfully re-assert their status as genuine title contenders. 

Topics:
Football
Arsenal
Premier League
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