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LFC

Mesut Özil Will Spark A New Era At Arsenal Football Club

mesut ozil2 Mesut Özil Will Spark A New Era At Arsenal Football Club

In David Winner’s excellent book entitled Brilliant Orange, he included a quote from Dutch sculptor Jeroen Henneman:

“When Bergkamp was playing with Nicolas Anelka, Anelka would be covered, like this, by two men. So Bergkamp would give a very beautiful curved pass forward and a little to the side. Anelka would start to run as the pass was hit and the defenders would go with him. But because the pass was curved, Anelka is closer to the ball. Before the pass, Anelka was out of the game, marked by two defenders. Now he is completely free and heading to the goal where he will score. It’s a miracle.”

Arsene Wenger’s most successful era as Arsenal manager was defined, if not sparked by, one man — Dennis Bergkamp. If you ask any Arsenal supporter over a certain age as to who was the most technically gifted football to have graced the turf of Highbury in modern times, the majority would say Dennis Bergkamp. I consider it to be no coincidence that since Dennis Bergkamp retired in 2006, Arsenal have not won a single trophy. This is not to say Dennis Bergkamp would have kept the success coming into Arsenal as an individual. He was thirty seven years old and retired at the right time. However what has been missing since is the technical skill, grace on the ball and downright God given genius that Dennis Bergkamp provided.

Since 2006, Arsenal have continued to play the type of free flowing, creative, easy on the eye football that has become synonymous with the Arsene Wenger era since he entered English football from Japan in 1996. However there has always, to a degree, been something missing. Some attribute this to a lack of a world class striker-cum-playmaker like Thierry Henry, although Robin Van Persie in my mind certainly fell into that mould in his final years at Arsenal. Others suggest it is down to a lack of leadership from midfield, which was given by Patrick Vieira, although once he returns to full fitness on a long term basis there is no reason to think that Jack Wilshere won’t be able to provide the same style of effective leadership from the heart of the midfield.

These are both genuinely interesting points that have great weight in their favor. However as I have already mentioned, the lack of a real creative genius — somebody on another level who can make ‘miracles’ happen — has been clearly evident since the departure of Bergkamp. However Arsene Wenger may just have found his man to fill this position.

Mesut Özil has been brought to the Emirates under a cloud of disbelief on two levels. Firstly the Arsenal supporters cannot believe their club has gone out and spent a significant amount of money on a player, smashing their outright fee transfer record of £13million on Sylvain Wiltord way in 2000 by three times as much money, and on the other side Real Madrid supporters and more crucially players can’t believe their club has allowed a player of Özil’s quality to leave the club. You just have to listen to the way some of Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s players speak of Özil and these are players who can judge quality. Cesc Fabregas intimated that he was “surprised by Özil’s departure” and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa revealed when he first heard of Özil’s transfer to Arsenal, he thought it was a practical joke played by somebody.

All this aside, this could well be the turning point for Arsenal Football Club. Arsene Wenger’s seventeen year reign as Arsenal head coach can effectively be split into two halves. From 1996 to 2006 you have the glory years where Wenger’s travelled methods of diet and ball retention through passing revitalized English football and brought a wave of foreign creative geniuses into England’s top flight. It is certainly a fair assessment to say the Premier League wouldn’t be as popular and rich as it is today without Wenger’s at the time modern influence on proceedings. From 2006 through to the present day you have the ‘trophy drought’ years where Arsene Wenger has come under increased criticism from sections of Arsenal’s own support as a result of the Frenchman’s unwillingness to spend money in order to improve the squad.

This period of meagre success has also coincided with the construction of and payment for the Emirates Stadium, which to my mind has seen Arsenal lack transfer funds for a number of years. This lack of financial stability also brought about a stringent wage structure that saw key players such as Mathieu Flamini and Robin van Persie leave the club when their contracts either ran down or had only a year left which put Arsenal in a position where they had to sell. Now if you are to believe Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis those financial restrictions are now behind Arsenal and the money is there for Wenger to spend to make Arsenal major players in the Premier League and on the continent once again.

This wasn’t proving to be the case this past summer until the deadline day signing of Mesut Özil sent Arsenal supporters into a wave of delirium and with Wenger now seemingly able to spend big money you have to look at this as something of a turning point not just in the most basic terms of financial competitiveness but also tactically returning to what has made Wenger successful with Arsenal in the past.

Mesut Özil is one of those footballers who sees things an instant before others, he knows exactly when the perfect opportunity to pass the football is, he knows exactly where his teammates will be without taking the excess time to look up and check their runs and finally he also knows how to score goals. Remind you anybody, a certain Dutchman perhaps? Özil is a very similar player to Dennis Bergkamp, maybe not physically with the German midfielder showing all the physical attributes of a post 2010 attacking midfielder where the trend is to be small with a low centre of gravity a la David Silva and Lionel Messi, but in both mental attributes and creative terms they are the same.

Arsenal’s best, most free flowing football came at a time when Dennis Bergkamp was a regular within the side, his creativity just made things happen for other players, as Jeroen Hanneman stated he could find Anelka in space and put him in a goalscoring position without even thinking about it. Mesut Özil can do the exact same thing. It is no mystery fluke that the German born midfielder of Turkish descent has been the joint highest assist provider with Lionel Messi in Europe’s top five Leagues since his 2010 transfer to Real Madrid with the pair both on forty seven.  In last season’s Champions League no player created more chances from open play than Özil who made twenty seven chances for his teammates.

At a time when Arsenal are bereft of a world class striker, although Olivier Giroud has started the current campaign like a freight train, Mesut Özil can provide the service that Giroud simply can’t not make use of, the chances the former Real Madrid man creates are so pin point perfect that they don’t require a world class striker to finish them, yes it helps but it isn’t required. With Walcott’s pace running in behind of a full back already proven to be a very useful trait in the European game there will only be more opportunities created for him through Özil’s exceptional vision which will make Arsenal an attacking threat across the board and the ability to score goals as a team is so vital in Europe as one away goal can, depending on the circumstance, effectively take the tie away from the opposition.

If we take a look at the situation at Arsenal when Wenger and the club were at their best, in the early days you had a squad with a strong core. You had David Seaman as the keeper, a strong defence marshalled by Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn and then a midfield containing Patrick Vieira as well as the creative talents of Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars. There was a strong core of English footballers in that team, now if we move onto the 2003-2004 season, the year of ‘The Invincibles’ you still had a very strong core albeit not an English one with Jens Lehmann as the goalkeeper, a defence led by Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure and a midfield which included once again Patrick Vieira as the enforce but also the creative talents of Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg and Jose Antonio Reyes. The similarity between these two Arsenal sides? They both contained Dennis Bergkamp, he made everything tick for the players around him.

Now if we fast forward to the present day, we have an Arsenal side with a similarly strong core. You have Wojciech Szczesny as the goalkeeper who is still rather erratic at times but has illustrated all the tools necessary to make him as big a presence as Jens Lehmann and David Seaman before him. You have a defence led by the strong personality of Laurent Koscielny who is definitely one of the more underrated footballers in England and he is ably assisted by Per Mertesacker another commanding presence at the back.

Into the midfield and you have when fully fit a strong group of players with Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey acting as the British core of the midfield, they are supported by Flamini as the strong midfield presence, Arteta and Rosicky who has put in a number of excellent displays already this season. This then leaves the creative talents of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott.

You may have noticed that this is a very similar set up in terms of the dynamics within the first team to the great, most successful Arsene Wenger Arsenal sides of the past. However now, unlike in the past twelve to eighteen months, Arsene Wenger has at his disposal in the shape of Mesut Özil, a Dennis Bergkamp figure and he could very well be the man to spark a revival at the Emirates and kick start a new era of success for Wenger.

Özil will be instrumental in the free flowing football Wenger holds so dear to his footballing philosophy and that will show in the team’s performances this season and whilst some Arsenal supporters may still have the worry they are weak in other areas every side has weaknesses but player’s like Özil can mask those weaknesses and still keep you successful until they are addressed, not many players can do that. Mesut Özil provides everything needed for this Arsenal side to take the next step this season and it could herald the beginning of a new stage of Wenger’s Arsenal career, a return to the glory years.

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About Chris Winterburn

@Chriswin4 on Twitter. A freelance football writer for hire. Indulges in all forms of the beautiful game from the Premier League to the Copa Libertadores. Always up for a discussion on football in general or something I have written myself.
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30 Responses to Mesut Özil Will Spark A New Era At Arsenal Football Club

  1. Dust says:

    What an over-reaction to one player arriving…

    Yes, Bergkamp was your best technical player by a considerable amount. but to compare özil to him is akin to comparing Bale to Ronaldo…ridiculous.

    I love this deluded sense of everything’s fixed we’ve addressed everything from Farsenal fans….lol

    • Foretold says:

      Reading this almost a year after it was written, I’d have to say that the author’s assessment was pretty good.

      Bale’s first season was wonderful as well, don’t you think?

  2. Tony Butterworth says:

    I’m not an Arsenal fan but how are they going to line up now. Who loses out, Wilshere, Walcott, Chamberlain? More good news for England I guess :)

  3. Tony Butterworth says:

    Hang on a minute, we had almost the same article a couple of days ago ???

    “Mesut Ozil is the Game Changer Arsenal Needed to Achieve Greater Success”

    http://worldsoccertalk.com/2013/09/05/mesut-ozil-is-the-game-changer-arsenal-needed-to-achieve-greater-success

  4. Chris Winterburn says:

    Tony I think Ozil arriving is excellent for Wilshere. As we know he has been overused for a while now and with Ozil now available we could see Cazorla dropping back inot the middle of midfield which allows Wilshere to be rested from time to time. Flamini will also help this cause. However for the very near future whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski and Arteta are all out I think Wilshere will have to play a hell of a lot.

  5. Br|an says:

    There is some serious delusional thinking on the part of Arsenal fans that think one man is going to solve their problems.

    • zach says:

      He actually fills the void of in the Arsenal squad which they sorely lacked: creating scoring chances.

      He also gives them more depth which they needed. Cazorla was exhausted toward the end of the season and some of his performances showed that. With Özil Arsenal continues to spread the scoring and scoring chances burden.

  6. Dami Odun says:

    Jack will do better in the double pivot Arsenal Midfield when he play in the DM role and Aaron as the CM. He though doesnt like to play there, he is better than Aaron in that role. His passes are more intricate and needful to build our attack from defence. He also commands a lot of resistance with his hard marking. But, he faces too much horrendous tackles when he tries to run with the ball through the midfield as a CM or CAM. He doesnt also cover well enough for Aaron when playing as the CM. Moreover, Ramsey is more combative, and from the CM will makeup well for DM-Jack to make thick cover for our backline. We cannot afford to loose Jack to another long lay off by exposing him to delibrate horrible challenges in the middle of the park. With Wilshere behind, powerhouse Ramsey runnig box-to-box, as Giroud is holding up play for Santi and Rosciky to provide necesary weapons for Walcott, anyone can then tap in goal the Arsenal way! Jekinson should continue as the RB. Vermalean will only captain games we he gets starts. Diaby’s contract wont be renewed, I think he’s now just been helped to run out his contract or atleast get some games to impress a buying club. Ozil atleast for this season, and Podolski should be backups to Cazorla just as Arteta to Rosciky, Flamini to Wilshere, Frimpong/Diaby to Ramsey, Ryo/Chamberlain to Walcott, Sagna to Jekinson/Per, Monreal to Gibbs and Vermalean to Koscielny.. All in my humble wishful tactful consideration and opinion!

    • Tony Butterworth says:

      But that lineup seems offer no defensive support at all. If I read it correctly.

      1GK, 4 def, then Wilshere, Ramsey, Ros, Ozil, Santi, Giroud

      There is no defensive support, for a somewhat weak defense, at all. + you can only play 3 of Ros, Ozil, Santi, Walcott and Chamberlain.

      • zach says:

        Based on what facts can you call the Arsenal defense “somewhat weak”?

        • Tony Butterworth says:

          The TERRIBLE performance against Villa when they played with a defensive stopper. No team can use a 4 man backline and 6 attacking players against top opposition.

  7. Adam Heap says:

    I find the way that the attitude of not only Arsenal fans but football fans in general has changed after Ozil’s arrival fascinating. It’s incredible to see how much changes with the arrival of just a single player. Ozil won’t solve all their problems, of course, but with him in there it just seems to make the squad a little more something to be feared.

    If they can continue to make similar signings in the coming windows then trophies are a very, very realistic prospect.

  8. Al Jean says:

    This answer to MoyesvMouvPelli, from this article http://worldsoccertalk.com/2013/09/04/arsenals-ozil-wanted-to-and-was-set-to-join-manchester-united-but-bid-never-came-nightly-soccer-report/#comment-412090

    My God! When did you started to watch football? 2012

    “Has there ever been a season where Arsenal was a team to beat in the Ucl?”
    Yes, from 2002-2005 Arsenal was overwhelming favourite to win it, in that time even SAF says hand down Arsenal would win it.

    The year two teams from Italy met in UEFA final, Arsenal were favourite, Arsenal went to Italy beat Italia champion As Roma 3-1, and do you remember this?
    The year Morinos Porto won it, Arsenal were the favourite. Do you remember when Arsenal went to Milan against Inter and beat them 5-1, when every English press thought Arsenal will be beaten again in that decisive game, do you?
    For that period of time Arsenal was the overwhelming. It is like the past two year Barcelona were the favourite but, ending get beaten 7-0 by a team were only the fourth favourite.

    For little history for you, early 2000 Arsenal have the better and strongest team in Britain. In 2002-2003 Arsenal went all season without losing an away game, Wenger said they will go all season unbeaten which Ferguson said it is impossible and will ever happen on his watch. Just two year later did happen, when they ask SAF, he says Wenger is a Magician.

    Some people really forget or don’t know how Arsenal used to be strong.

    Sorry for my English.

    • derrick says:

      What’s your point? Arsenal was good a decade ago so that means something today?

      • Al Jean says:

        Check that article I posted you will see why I say this.

        When he/she says Arsenal never been favourite to win UEFA Champions League, that why I teach him/her some history.

        And he say no one scare Arsenal in Germany because they never won UEFA Champions League, so they scare more Nottingham Forest than Arsenal because they won it decades ago.

        Chris, please teach some people BPL history, some people here really dont know why Arsenal are where they are now.

        • Chris Winterburn says:

          Arsenal historically have always been a big club. They haven’t always been a successful club however, I think it is important to remember the leap forward they made in appointing Arsene Wenger, introduced fantastic modern training methods and sorted out players who had person issues, i.e. Tony Adams. Arsenal in the Premier League era have since 1996 always been there of thereabouts in the title race until post 2006-7 really which is the point they began to falter. They have always been a main challenger in the Champions League though, as Manchester United have been although it is seldom either side has been a favourite from the outset of the competition in fairness.

    • MoyesvMouvPelli says:

      Yeah right. Real and AC Milan were the two big teams. Barca wasnt the forrce they are now but maybe in England Arsenal were favs but the Galacticos led by Ronaldo and Raul were far better sides than Arsenal 2002-2005 same for the Rosoneri. After 2001 when Bayern beat Arsenal at home 3-1 there was never a fear of Arsenal at anytime in Europe. You must be a fool to believe Arsenal were the favs to win the Ucl from 2002-2005. Lol They have never been a force in Europe. Never beat bayern or Barca. What a joke. Fergie said a lot of things he was a smoke and daggers kind of guy. He said one thing and meant another. I cannot believe that you dare say Arsenal were the toast of Europe for 3 consecutive seasons. Its funny how you bring up Roma and Roma has never really done anything significant in Europe besides losing a European Cup final at home in Rome to Liverpool. They have never been a team to fear in Europe by the limes of Utd Barca Milan Bayern or Real. They are not a wrll respected club outside of England. They are percieved as Barcas feeder club and as such not really respected by the big guns. Selling Rvp made that little respect they had dissapear. Utd is a bigger club there is no argument. Giggsy has the same amount of League titles Arsenal has and he has 2 european cups to Arsenals nil.

      • Al Jean says:

        “Yeah right. Real and AC Milan were the two big teams. Barca wasnt the forrce they are now but maybe in England Arsenal were favs but the Galacticos led by Ronaldo and Raul were far better sides than Arsenal 2002-2005 same for the Rosoneri.”

        There we go, Barca was nothing in that period that why Cesc left them come to Arsenal when teams all over in Europe including Milan and Bayer were looking get him. Milan never been favourite in that period, like last season Bayer wasn’t favourite they were only the fourth favourite behind Madrid, Barca and Man Utd, even this season they still the third favourite. Madrid was favourite but, behind Arsenal and Utd, everyone knew they weren’t the players they used to be and most of them were near 30s or over. That why you hear me 2002-2005, that team didn’t do anything after 2002, in fact the only big game they had was against Utd where they won on agg 6-5, after this there could no ever pass 1/8 until Morino come.

        “After 2001 when Bayern beat Arsenal at home 3-1 there was never a fear of Arsenal at anytime in Europe.”

        Bayer didn’t just beat Arsenal, they also beat Utd at home, so stop making as one game was the define moment.

        “You must be a fool to believe Arsenal were the favs to win the Ucl from 2002-2005.”

        I am not going to insult back because I don’t you as you don’t me, there is no need to insult we here to share no to insult, peace.

        “Lol They have never been a force in Europe. Never beat bayern or Barca. What a joke.”

        When you never beaten you mean in tie or what? Because I remember well Arsenal was the only team who beat Bayer in Munich, and also beat Bayer year ago, as I say you start to watch football in 2012, I remember very well Arsenal beat Barca 2-1, year ago.

      • Al Jean says:

        “Fergie said a lot of things he was a smoke and daggers kind of guy. He said one thing and meant another.”

        You are maybe right, maybe wrong.

        “ I cannot believe that you dare say Arsenal were the toast of Europe for 3 consecutive seasons.”

        Because it is the truth, I am not Graham Hunter, who makes staff up.

        “Its funny how you bring up Roma and Roma has never really done anything significant in Europe besides losing a European Cup final at home in Rome to Liverpool.”

        I bring Roma because on that time they were the best team in Italy and manage by the great Capelo, that why.

        “They have never been a team to fear in Europe by the limes of Utd Barca Milan Bayern or Real.”

        Barca, wasn’t good in Europe either before Frank Rijkaard come were having difficult even to get to CL, before that they only won one CL cup after they have four, so stop making like Barca was big. They big in Spain just because they are Madrid biggest rival, without Madrid no one would talk about them before Frank Rijkaard reign, it is like Arsenal and Spurs, without Arsenal there will not be Tottenham outside GB, but now there are standing on they own legs. As I told you, you don’t know anything about football, Arsenal beat Madrid in Madrid with the galactic you are talking and everyone in England new the day Arsenal will meet Madrid will end because they way Arsenal play. Arsenal was the first British team to beat Real Madrid in Madrid, and Madrid is the most successful team in uefa cl. Arsenal beat the second successful team in uefa cl Milan in Milan and was also the first British team to beat Milan in Milan. Arsenal beat almost every team in Europe way, just tell me which team you know Arsenal didn’t beat I will tell you, because you didn’t even know Arsenal beaten AC Milan in Milan.

      • Al Jean says:

        “They are not a wrll respected club outside of England. They are percieved as Barcas feeder club and as such not really respected by the big guns. Selling Rvp made that little respect they had dissapear. Utd is a bigger club there is no argument. Giggsy has the same amount of League titles Arsenal has and he has 2 european cups to Arsenals nil.”

        I am not Arsenal fan or British, I am French Canadian, Man Utd support I have been living in Europe for very long time. I don’t like to see lie that why I step in, most Man Utd fan see Arsenal best rival in term of football since EPL started, Liverpool is our biggest rival mainly in history reason, Chelsea there is no rival because it just manufactured it is just Abramovich against Utd without him Chelsea will playing in second division by now. But with Arsenal is football reason Alex against Arsene, Roy against Patrick everyone enjoy that time even press. Who can forget when SAF said AW wanted to beat in hall because Arsenal lost and Arsene said everyone think have the prettiest wife at home.

        • MoyesvMouvPelli says:

          Dorry for calling you a fool. But i am from Germany and was born in Bavaria actiually so i know the german view especially Bayerns. Arsenal are a big club its just that outside of Europe noone really thinks of them the way they think of a Manchester United or Liverpool teams that conjure up some magical nights in Europe.

  9. Todd says:

    I do not think any Arsenal fan is saying Ozil is going to solve every problem over the last 8 years, so stop acting as though these articles are minimizing other areas of need the club have because Ozil would not have come when Wenger talked with him on the phone sealing the deal if he would have heard, “nope. You are all we need, I am done spending.” I don’t think anyone is saying Ozil is going to be all Arsenal need and that he is going to change everything by himself, “11 players attack. 11 players defend.” Jupp Heynckes.

    But don’t kid yourself, this article is spot on the money. Ozil is not over-hyped, he in fact according to stats is the best #10 in the world over the last 5 years and there are plenty of OPTA, Squawka and fourfourtwo stats to prove it; research it yourself and get to the truth because it is true that Ozil was the second best Real Madrid player and most creative passer in the world with more assists and more key passes than anyone in the world over the last 5 years. He is exactly what Arsene needs to build the team and it will be built around Ozil, like it was built around bergkamp, because Arsenal is NOT DONE BUYING YET. Time will prove right because the next two windows will bring in a world class striker and after that i would guess a world class central holding midfielder or Center Back. A new world class Arsenal is about to emerge. Watch.

    • derrick says:

      These articles do minimize the gaping holes in Arsenal’s squad.

      Let’s see these world class signings. I’ll believe it when I see it.

      • zach says:

        No they don’t. The biggest void was creating chances.

        If you have Watched the arsenal last season you would notice that they would lack creativity in the final third. Özil directly addresses that problem.

        The biggest problem Arsenal has besides that is their lack of squad depth. But all thEIR injured players coming back are LANS! Perfect solution.

    • DB10 is God. says:

      Great article. As a user has previously said,’is spot on the money.’ This article is not saying that Ozil is as good as Bergkamp, and that this signing will bring all the success that’s Dennis’s arrival saw, but his arrival will bring a renewed sense of optimism. As Ian Wright has recently said in a interview, when Dennis arrived, the club was under a cloud. All the Arsenal stalwarts, such as himself and Tony Adams, bowed down to him, calling him ‘ the messiah.’ This is shown by the outpouring of regard for Mesut, by current Arsenal players and Real Madrid players. The fans were upset with the clubs hierarchy after the sour departure of Highbury Hero, George Graham. Also, the club were not even close to competing for the title, finishing sixth(if I remember correctly) under the single season of of Rioch’s reign. The signing of Dennis-who Arsene instructed David Dein to sign in that single season of Ricoh-brought a new era of Arsenal, one of fast, free flowing football. The article, is simply making correct similarities between the two eras. The comparisons of Dennis’ arrival with Ozil’s are uncanny, as the article, correctly suggests. IT IS the start of a new era, one that is sparked by the arrival, however, it hopefully will spark new life into the reign of Arsene Wenger. Good article and one the the better ones I’ve read on Ozil.

  10. MrD5000 says:

    If Ozil is the answer Wenger has again misunderstood the question being asked.

    • DB10 is God. says:

      Nonsensical point. We had the second best defensive record last year. That is what I assume the point your making. Last year, we had to over play Cazorla, which showed in his end of season performances. This also meant that Wilshere had to continue playing,even in ‘smaller’ games against teams such as Bradford and Blackburn, which meant that he had to play unfit, and then he gets injured for large period of the season. Another player who was negatively affected by the lack of attacking midfield options last year, was Arteta, which him even admitting that he hardly played any games when fully fit. The signing of Ozil and Flamini, allows Arsene Wenger to rotate his squad to some extent. Also, remember, we have Podolski, Chamberlain,Arteta,Vermaelen and Diaby to come back. We’ve only conceded 1 goal since the opening game. We have reason for optimism, something that this article expclitcty states.

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