Archive for September 17th, 2013

Thoughts on Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal: Ozil glides like Pires, passes like Bergkamp

1 comment September 17th, 2013

Great players elevate those around them…
…and Mesut Ozil is undoubtedly a great player. Seeing him step out on to the pitch in an Arsenal shirt was both surreal and sublime. His touch was immaculate and his passing incisive. Considering he had barely trained with the team, his immediate rapport with the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey and Walcott was remarkable.

Arsenal have been blessed with some great playmakers in recent years. Ozil shares Dennis Bergkamp’s elegant stride and cushioned control. He also seems to derive the same satisfaction from creating goals as the Dutchman once did.

Bergkamp laid on goal after goal for the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry. Cesc Fabregas performed footballing alchemy by using his gifts to transform Emmanuel Adebayor in to a thirty goal striker. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Ozil could do the same for Olivier Giroud.

Ozil looks like he’ll cope fine with the physicality of the Premier League…
I was struck by both Ozil’s height and speed. He is able to accelerate away from defenders with relative ease, both with and without the ball. His time spent in the Bundesliga should mean he’ll have few problems acclimatising to the rough and tumble of the English game.

Ramsey is the perfect example to Wilshere…
It’s a point that’s been well-made elsewhere, but as he bids to improve his form Jack Wilshere could do worse than take a look at the man alongside him. Aaron Ramsey has demonstrated that with persistence, hard-work and a degree of humility it is perfectly possibility to rehabilitate your game after a long lay-off. In fact, Ramsey has done more than rehabilitate his game: he has rebuilt it, from the ground up.

A year ago Ramsey was guilty of over-playing. He was too eager to make an immediate impression, attempting ambitious passes and unnecessary back-heels. In order to get back to his best, he had to keep it simple and rebuild from the ground up. Now we’re seeing flourishes – such as the two outstanding finishes on Saturday – added to an increasingly solid technical foundation. Ramsey is developing in to an outstanding central midfielder, and is surely the front-runner for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award.

Wilshere played from the left flank against Sunderland. I’m not averse to seeing him continue there for now. Until he learns to control his over-exuberance, his risk-taking game is better suited to the wing.

Giroud is integral to this team…
When he went down clutching his knee, I felt the same pang of anxiety that accompanied every Robin van Persie injury during his time with the club. However, for the majority of Van Persie’s time at the club we had the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo da Silva in reserve.

Now there is no such luxury. Giroud has been passed fit to play tomorrow – fit enough, at any rate. The paucity of options means that we’ll never be able to afford him a rest.

Worryingly, he told French website RMCSport that he has been carrying a knee problem since pre-season. For all my excitement over Ozil, the fact that we entered the season without signing another striker continues to baffle and frustrate me in equal measure.

Marseille away might prove to be a must-win game…
Dortmund have won their first five games. Napoli have won their first three. Marseille are a decent side, but arguably the weakest in a very tough group. Tomorrow night’s result could be crucial in the battle for qualification. Fortunately for Arsenal, Marseille have experimented with a very high defensive line this season.

That should be music to Ozil’s ears.

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