Over the summer Arsenal attempted to lure Luis Suarez from Liverpool to the Emirates, due to a distinct lack of options up front for the Gunners.
Liverpool were unwilling to let the Uruguayan ace leave Merseyside, especially not to play for a Premier League rival, and Arsenal ended up acquiring the services of Mesut Özil on transfer deadline day.
It’s been suggested, in some areas of the media that Arsene Wenger made a mistake, and that Suarez would have been a better option for the Gunners, giving them another option that they currently don’t have, as Ozil entered at a time where the side has a wealth of attacking midfielders. I’m not sure that’s true.
In fact, I flatly deny that being true and think that the opposite is more realistic. Mesut Özil was a much better addition to the north London club than Luis Suarez would have been – despite the lack of depth in the advanced position so far this term. And here’s why.
The way that Arsenal are playing, with their quick pass and move play, a lot of their goals are coming from the midfield – with Aaron Ramsey Arsenal’s top goal scorer so far this season.
However, most of Ramsey’s goals have been set up, or at least influenced in some way, by Olivier Giroud. He’s strong, tall, holds up the ball and lays it off, and tries to find other players, to share the scoring around.
Suarez doesn’t have the same attributes that the Arsenal man does, he’s a lot shorter, and just doesn’t have the strength that gives Giroud the ability to back into a defender and retain possession.
I understand that the idea is that Suarez would bring a different way of playing, so perhaps not having the ability to do what Giroud can do is immaterial, and anyway (I hear you say) I’m comparing a Suarez signing to an Özil signing. So let’s look at that.
Suarez, in his 449minutes played in the Premier League this season, has made a total of 207 passes – which is about 41.4 passes per game that he’s played, with an accuracy of 82% according to stats from WhoScore.com.
Arsenal’s record signing, on the other hand has an average almost double that of the Uruguayan, 71.3, with a success rate of 87%. Suarez averages 2.4 key passes per game – I will admit that when compared to Özil’s 3.1 it doesn’t seem like such a bad return, but it’s still a lower return.
Arsenal’s £42.5million man is a midfielder and so passes the ball more, and is supposed to create more chances, Suarez is supposed to finish chances, not create them? but that’s just not the Arsenal way, is it.
Maybe it should be, but Arsenal seem to be doing alright as it is, being the first English team to beat Dortmund at home in the Champions League, and ending a ridiculous run of unbeaten games at home. So do they need another way? Probably not.
Arsenal may not have needed another creative player, when they went out and got Ozil. They had a wealth of attacking midfielders and so it seemed like an incredible waste, but when someone of Özil’s creative quality comes in it leaves more players available to get back and defend.
In one move Ôzil, with one or two players (Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud), has been more effective than Cazorla, Ramsey, Walcott and Giroud were last year. That means that instead of throwing four or five players into up the field they can just send three of them (sometimes four I admit), meaning that there are more player available to get behind the ball should an attack break down. It’s simple mathematics.
The final, and most important reason that Arsenal ended up with the better choice with Özil is the effect that he has had on the rest of the team.
He has a comforting effect on all of the players. Without speaking the language (I’m not sure he’s fluent in English yet) he’s managed to raise the game of everybody at Arsenal (do we need to mention this season’s Welsh star?). Could Suarez do that? Perhaps there is an argument in the fact that if Suarez could do that, Liverpool would have finished higher than 7th last season.
If he has had that effect on the Liverpool players, and that’s where they are, you fear for next season when he inevitably leaves for Madrid, Milan or somewhere else.
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