On monday night the transfer window slammed shut. The morning after, football and mostly Arsenal fans would have woken up scratching their eyes, as if they had dreamt the entire thing. When Arsene Wenger announced he had a surprise for everyone on Sunday during the post match interview of the 1-0 Victory against Tottenham, I don’t think anyone would have guessed what Wnger had up his sleeve. Admittedly, I didn’t even believe Wenger. I thought, just like all season long he was just getting my hopes up, only to be let down come 11 o’clock Monday night.
Alas it was not a dream! Arsenal spent a record breaking £42.5 million on one single player! With the state of football transfer’s these day’s you would not be blamed for assuming the player doesn’t match the price tag. In this case, I would consider £42.5 an absolute steal! Wenger didn’t just go spend£42 million on just anyone, he went for the best! I am proud to announce Arsenal have purchased the services of German international Mesut Ozil! Considering Bale was also sold for a whopping £85 million on the same day, I am shocked as to how Real Madrid let Ozil go for such a fair price. I believe in his position, Ozil is only bettered by one other player, Andre Iniesta. Arsenal fans rejoice, but it was not long before old concerns reemerged.
Having failed to sign a striker, a winger, a defensive midfielder and another centre back of equal quality to Arsenal’s only other purchase of the summer, the Arsenal squad is still blatantly thin. If Arsenal had succeeded in signing Di Maria and Demba Ba those concerns would have only been half quelled, with many Arsenal fans expressing the fact that Wenger has strengthened the only position in the team that didn’t need strengthening! I only half agree with that notion.
Although it is true Arsenal would be a lot more comfortable with a few more reinforcements in other positions, I cannot name you one single Arsenal player that comes close to matching Ozil’s quality, not even Carzola! This signing is a step in the right direction. Arsenal have been accused of failing to replace past departures such as Sol Campbell, Song, Van Persie etc. When Arsenal lost Cesc Fabregas, Carzola was brought in to fill the void and he has done a fantastic job, but Carzola is half the player Fabregas was and in Mesut Ozil we have not only replaced Fabregas, but we have bettered him! I only hope that this is not a one off and that Wenger continues in this direction bringing in the type of players that can truly play his beautiful game the way it should.
The only other signings of the transfer window saw Yaya Sanogo join the club and the return of Mathieu Flamini to the Arsenal ranks. All I wanted from Wenger this transfer period was a centre half and a defensive midfielder. I’m very disappointed that Wenger opted to rely on Sagna as our back up to Koscielny and Mertersacker, until Vermaelen returns. Wenger would have done well to snatch Mamadou Sakho from underneath Liverpool’s nose or even my personal requests Toby Alderweireld, who joined Atletico Madrid, along with St Etienne defensive midfielder, Guilavogui for a mere £15 million! For both players! I had predicted Wenger was mostly likely not sign a centre half and choose Sagna as back up instead, leaving both the centre back and right back position very thin. During Sunday’s North London derby, I sat through the entire match with my fingers crossed, hoping Arsenal wouldn’t pick up anymore injuries along the back line.
I was not as ecstatic as other Arsenal fans about the return of Mathieu Flamini, I’ve since had my faith renewed. Since Gilberto’s departure to Panathanikos, Arsenal have missed a commanding presence in the midfield. Anyone with one eye on Flamini during the North London Derby, would have seen the “The Little Corporal”, is well and truly back. It’s been along time since I’ve seen an Arsenal player on the pitch pipe up. Flamini was instrumental in organising the defence and barking orders at his team mates. He left Arsenal a quality defensive midfielder and returned a leader and I welcome him. This is definitely something Wenger also would have spotted and I wouldn’t be surpassed if Flamini ended up barging his way back into the first team.
I didn’t have many concerns about signing another striker, or any attacking players for that matter, that was until both Chamberlain and Podolski picked up lengthy injuries. Di Maria would have done very nicely in an Arsenal shirt at the moment. In one of my previous blogs, I did say I expect Wenger to give Ryo Miyachi and and Serge Gnabry a run in the first team. To be honest, I’m glad! There has been a lot said about Miyachi and I would really like to see him play, especially since I didn’t get a chance to see him play for Wigan last season, mostly because of his injury problems.
So what does this mean for the Arsenal first team? No debating who’s playing upfront! my prediction is that with Podolski and Chamberlain both out, Wenger will opt to play Carzola on the left wing, leaving attacking midfield all to Mesut Ozil. In his current form Aaron Ramsey is untouchable in the midfield. That leaves one place left in Arsenal’s three man midfield. This all depends on whether Aaron Ramsey’s considered an attacking or defensive player. If Wenger were to play Ramsey as an attacker, I’m positive Wenger will pick Flamini over Wilshere to cover the defence, which I believe will happen. On the other hand Ramsey can take up the defensive duties while Ozil and Wilshere run wild. I’m of the opinion that Flamini needs to be in the first team, his experience and command over the squad is something the first team desperately needs. Finally, with Arsenal’s lack of depth, it’s the usual suspects at the back, starring Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertersacker and Sagna. Where Arteta and Diaby now stand is a mystery. Diaby on his day would walk into the Arsenal team, but those days are few and far between. Being a fan of Arteta I would hate if this spelt the end of his Arsenal career, because he would be a class squad player to keep a hold of.
On saturdays North London Derby… It was truly a game of two halves. Arsenal in control in the first half, and Tottenham overwhelmingly on the attack in the second. One thing certain, both teams could not get it together in the final third, except for Giroud’s one goal of course. Nothing a bit of Ozil and Eriksen can’t cure. Spurs are a team in much need of gelling, and come the next meeting, football fans will be in for a real treat. Where both teams fail is with some very suspect defending. I don’t have to point out Mertersacker’s lack of pace and agility, Spurs did a fine job exposing it. Spurs arguably have two of the best centre halves in the league, which is a shame for them that they only one of them was playing that day. With Kaboul out, Vertongen was left partnered with Michael Dawson, who to be frank, isn’t that good! The same could be said for Danny Rose and Kyle Walker although still a prospect for the England national squad, isn’t showing the same promise he once did.
Unlike the majority of Arsenal fans who blamed the Aston Villa defeat on the players and Wenger, I stand by my evaluation that the referee won the game for Villa. Arsenal didn’t actually play that bad… When they weren’t being kicked to pieces by Villa! It’s very hard to keep a cool head and play the beautiful game whilst the referee allows foul after foul to pass by unscrutinised. Arsenal have done well proving themselves by winning their last four games and I for one can’t wait to see Ozil step out against Sunderland! Until January I will watch every game praying Arsenal don’t pick up anymore injuries but until then I have to say I am feeling quite positive about the future.