Without a doubt, the Gareth Bale to Real Madrid transfer was the biggest by leaps and bounds which was executed here during this past summer transfer window. Yet on Monday, in the final hours of the summer transfer window, Arsenal, the same one yours truly has criticized on a number of occasions for past failings in the transfer market, pulled off the second biggest transfer as it acquired playmaking midfielder and German international Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.
The transfer comes on the heels of what has been a very good week for Arsenal as it qualified for the Champions League group stage. On Sunday, it beat North London rivals Tottenham 1-0. Aside from rounding out what is currently a good couple of weeks for Arsenal especially after a bad start to the Premier League season, the signing of Mesut Ozil will also have an important impact on the field of play. With Ozil now part of the squad, the Arsenal attack has been enhanced and gotten better as a result of his signing.
Looking at where and how Mesut Ozil will play with Arsenal, it is clear that in the immediate, he gives the Arsenal attack some immediate attacking depth and variations, which would not have been present before. In the 4-2-3-1 formation which Arsenal are now playing, Ozil will be playing in a central role on the three attacking midfield line and will serve as a playmaker as opposed to a support role for the lone striker who so far this season has been Olivier Giroud.
With Ozil now a part of the team, this will improve the play of Santi Carzola, especially in the big games that Arsenal play as now teams can no longer focus on him and try to shut Arsenal’s creative play by shutting down Carzola. For those who think that somehow Ozil and Carzola will run into each other as a result of Ozil now playing in a central role, Paul Carr of ESPN produced a heat map picture which showed that they both favor making runs and playing on opposite sides of the attacking zone. With this in mind, this will give the likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey additional room and opportunity to join attacks playing up the middle as a result of the space they will have to do so.
Aside from helping and complementing the likes of Carzola, Wilshere and Ramsey, the arrival of Ozil will give Arsene Wenger the chance to play certain attacking players in more advanced roles. For example, if Wenger decided to play Theo Walcott as the lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 he can do so without worrying about who be the creative player in the middle of the attacking midfield trio. Additionally, Lukas Podolski, once he is healthy again and fit can also be deployed as a lone striker with a healthy and fit Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain playing as a the attacking midfielder on the left wing. These are just a few of the tactical options available now to Wenger with the arrival of Ozil.
Before and after the Ozil acquisition was made official, many on Twitter wondered why Arsenal needed Ozil. This was frankly laughable and dumbfounding as anyone who has watched Arsenal since Cesc Fabregas left can tell you they have lacked that central playmaker in the midfield. Ozil fills that void and much more. Yes, recognizing that Arsenal should have also acquired another striker and a defensive midfielder does not mean Ozil was not needed because he was a needed addition. In the end, a world-class player like Ozil who fills a void and improves your ability to attack is a great signature if your Arsenal.