Monday 9 September 2013

Özil: Cööl, calm and cöllected

After the initial delight of seeing Arsenal spend real money on a transfer, I’ve had a few more days to reflect on our new record signing.

And I’m pleased to say I’m still very excited.

Generally speaking, all Arsenal supporters have welcomed the addition of Mesut Özil with open arms.

But some pundits have questioned the need for another creative midfielder rather than a striker or someone more defensive.

They are understandable points but if your fundamental aim for any transfer is to make your team stronger, then Özil does that.

I watched him play for Germany on Friday night in their World Cup qualifier against Austria. I haven’t seen him perform often for Real Madrid but if this match was anything to go by he will be similar to watching Robert Pires trying to play like Dennis Bergkamp.

Like both of those Arsenal heroes (Dennis' occasional flying elbows aside), he is a cool, calm and collected character, making himself available for teammates but not demanding the ball off them – as though he trusts them to make the right decision and realising he can be as effective without the ball as he is with it.

That sense of him putting others first comes across in his keen eye for a pass as opposed to shot – a perfect ball midway through the first half along the inside channel to a sprinting Reus was one of his finest moments. His assist record suggests, like Bobby, he gets as much satisfaction from creating a goal as he does scoring it.

Overall, he had a quietly efficient game but the fact he didn't stand out is almost reassuring – Austria were pretty poor opposition and Germany were fending them off fairly easily, so no need to search for top gear, he was comfortably in third.

Where will he line-up for the Arsenal? If he was available last weekend, it would have been in place of Rosicky. I expect Özil will become the new first choice tip of the midfield triangle, with Cazorla playing on either flank and Walcott and Podolski starting on the other, and Rosicky and the Ox as further back up.

Behind them, Arteta, Wilshere and Ramsey will all be competing to take two of the other central midfield positions.

The similarities and differences between Özil and Wilshere are striking for me. Both are very left footed, both have excellent passing ability, both like to dribble their way out of tight spots. What differs is their approach to the game and, as a result, where they end up playing. While Özil has an air of knowing how good he is and not having to prove anything to anyone, Jack rushes here, there and everywhere as though he blames himself for our lack of recent silverware. He throws himself dangerously into challenges, scurries to every loose ball and gets frustrated when he isn’t involved or things don’t go his way. In short, he comes across as an angry young man, while Özil rarely dropped deep looking for the attention of his teammates - he knew he could do most damage to a team by keeping his focus and killing them in the final third of the pitch.

Wilshere is a little more than three years younger than Özil and has a chance to learn from a master of what could be his best position, just behind the striker. That means no more crazy tackles, no more throwing your arms around like a hormonal teenager. Just concentrate on how to hurt the opposition most and keep himself fit to play every match.

Getting Özil means rather than having just enough midfielders and fearing the impact of the next injury, or thinking we cannot afford to rest players, Arsenal have a healthy surplus and a pretty clear hierarchy.

The key now will be to get into the same state in other parts of the field, most notably up front. Adding another German in the shape of Julian Draxler would be a good start.

1 comment:

  1. u just hit d nail on d head. I totally agree with u.


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