Football

Arsenal have papered over cracks by signing Ozil

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Wenger needed to bring a few more players in this summer (©GettyImages)
Wenger needed to bring a few more players in this summer (©GettyImages).

As long as Mesut Özil can overcome a small illness scare, he too is likely to make his first appearance for Arsenal away at Sunderland.

There is no doubt that a player of this quality won't benefit a team; any club in the world would be improved by securing the signature of Özil; however, in terms of what Arsenal actually needed to really improve as a team, the signing doesn't seem to encapsulate what was essential for the club in order to mount a strong title challenge.

Since moving to the Emirates, Arsenal have struggled to bring big names in. This is most likely down to money constraints considering the fact they were in over £200m debt thanks to the change of stadium, but a poor season in 2005/06 (with the exception of a miraculous run to the Champions League final) set the ball rolling.

Since then, Arsenal have struggled for decent finishing positions in the Premier League and as a consequence of all of this - no exciting new signings, no money to spend, no trophies - they haven't even been able to keep hold of their current big names who could have helped attract big names to come to Arsenal.

Players of world-class quality such as Nasri, Van Persie and, to a lesser extent, Fabregas have left the club for bigger and better things. All three have won trophies since moving.

Albeit, this summer Arsenal have done well. They've shifted all the deadwood and managed to keep hold of all their star performers from the previous season. This is a good start. They also had a reported £70m to spend - even better.

Although, leaking this information may have been their downfall. To calm down the fans and yet at the same time getting them excited, this was the perfect move. But not for business - you've just revealed your hand. Don't fan yourself with £70m when trying to buy something for £20m. If you're negotiating over buying something and reveal to that person that you have bundles of cash to spend - they're going to increase their price, because they know you can afford it, just talk to any car salesman or market stall owner.

This is exactly why the apparently certain deal for Higuain fell through. This brings us to the next point: Arsenal needed a striker.

All summer, Arsenal have needed a striker. Arsene Wenger knew it, the club knew it, even the players knew it. Olivier Giroud was begging for another striker, even though he knew it would be competition for his place, because he knew just how essential that was.

Stevan Jovetic seemed incredibly likely at the start of the summer - nope. Nevermind, Higuain is an absolute certainly apparently - nope. Benzema, Ba, Suarez - nothing. Well, except for Yaya Sanogo, a 20-year-old, unproven French striker on a free.

I don't mean to be disrespectful by that comment, he could well be a superstar in a few years, but Arsenal needed more. Higuain would have been perfect, but for one reason or another, Napoli swooped in and took him away and now he will be lining up against the Gunners in the Champions League, just to rub salt into the wound.

That deal should've been wrapped up long before he went to Napoli. Even Suarez, regardless of whatever disciplinary issues he has, would have thrived at Arsenal and would have been a terrific signing. But Arsenal never really seemed to push hard for that transfer. And now, it is all on the shoulders of Mr. Giroud. Now he has continued form from a fine pre-season and is looking a real player after his transition season into English football. But if Giroud gets an injury or starts choking in front of goal, Arsenal could be in trouble. 

At the other end of the pitch Arsenal have done well securing Emiliano Viviano on a season long loan; a more than capable goalkeeper who will surely push Szczesny for a first team place.

But even the best 'keepers deserve a good defence in front of them and you can argue Arsenal have that; they did have the second best defence in the league last season after all.

Yet, even though the statistics are in the Gunners' favour, you still feel they need another world class defenders. Whenever the opposition are surging forward, you get the feeling they could score with every attack - the defence does not seem solid.

Aston Villa illuminated the glaring weaknesses in that back-line in the opening game of the season. Furthermore, when you consider Vermaelen is out injured (albeit to be back soon), Djourou out on loan, Squallaci released and young Ignasi Miquel also out on loan, there is a serious lack of centre-backs.

Again, if Koscielny or Mertesacker get injured, Arsenal could be in trouble; they can't keep counting on Sagna to keep filling in. Arguably Sagna's best performances last season and so far this season have been when he has had to move into the centre (think of Sunderland away last season and Fulham away this), but he isn't a centre-back. It's a lot of pressure on his shoulders and it also decreases the options at right back.

Some Arsenal fans may say 'Well we have Flamini now, he can play centre back,' - no. Wrong.

Flamini is a more than decent player and getting him for nothing is a steal. On top of that, it is a player brought into the position where one was needed: defensive midfield - someone tough and gritty.

Flamini is that, he's not quite the player he once was but it's certainly nice to have him in the squad. Saying that, Arsenal deserve better, they need better. Gundogan would have been a perfect signing, an exceptionally gifted player. There were tiny rumours about interest but nothing serious.

Marouane Fellaini would've been a great buy - arguably not what you would call a defensive midfielder bit his power and strength is something Arsenal really could have done with. Again, Arsenal have failed to sign players for the position they need. And going back to those who say it's a very good signing because he can play centre-back - technically, yes, you're right, he can play centre-back, but he definitely shouldn't.

Russell Crowe, technically, can sing, but it doesn't mean he should. Ever again. The point shouldn't need clarifying, he's not a centre-back. It's nice he is back and it adds some density to the squad, but it's underwhelming and unnecessary.

A striker, a centre-back, a tenacious midfielder; the three players needed in order to become a real force in European football again. Not one position was filled. What Arsenal did bring in was a technically superb attacking midfielder - Mesut Özil is defectless, arguably the best creative midfielder in the world right now. He is only 24 too so age is definitely on his side, he's still going to improve.

As stated earlier, he has upgraded the Arsenal team, they are now better for having him, but creating chances wasn't Arsenal's problem. Scoring goals from midfield wasn't Arsenal's problem. They already have numerous players similar in style to Özil; Cazorla, Rosicky, Wilshere, Ramsey, Arteta, the Ox, all fantastic players - it's become excessive, Arsenal can only play so many of them.

Özil has been the second best signing of the summer (behind Bale), and I'm not saying it was pointless. Since joining Real Madrid, he is Europe's top chance creator and top for assists, he also scored a commendable 19 goals in 85 league appearances. He definitely deserves the price tag.

This is Arsenal's biggest signing since Dennis Bergkamp and it is easy to argue that Özil is a better signing (note that I have not said a better player). Bergkamp was a high profile signing, however he had not proved himself at Inter Milan where he had spent the previous season so there was a question whether he would make a difference at Arsenal; there's no question with Mesut, he will make a difference.

Bergkamp's arrival transformed Arsenal into the team they were, into champions, can Özil do that? Maybe. But I don't think his arrival alone will, more business needs to be done in January. There are still gaping holes in the Arsenal squad. It is very thin and the spread of players to certain positions is way off.

The fans were getting aggravated, the media were being critical, Özil's arrival is the equivalent of giving your wife a bunch of flowers when you're in the doghouse to prevent a squabble; it smoothes things over, calms things down, she adores you.

It will do for now - but you haven't dealt with the problem and sooner or later, it's going to crop up again. All you've done is bought yourself time to try and figure out a solution. Hopefully Arsenal have done the same.

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Topics:
Football
Arsenal
Premier League
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