When the transfer window slammed shut at 11pm UK time on the 2nd of September, Arsenal fans were delighted for the first time in close to a decade. Instead of enduring a summer where they lost their best players and signed inferior replacements, Arsenal had gone out and splashed 42.5 million pounds on Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil.
When you consider Europe football at the moment, Arsenal are a level or two below the very top teams. They may always be in the Champions League, but they rarely challenge in the latter stages. Similarly, they are a threatening Premier League side on their day, but they are always out of the picture come March and April. Hopefully the signing of Ozil is the beginning of a new era for Arsenal.
Not only did signing Ozil mean that a world class footballer was coming to play at the Emirates Stadium, it ended the trend where Arsenal refused to spend money in the transfer window. It showed the world, and Arsenal fans, that Arsene Wenger still means business in his bid to get Arsenal back among the elite of English football. However, the pragmatic analysis shows that Arsenal’s needs were in other positions.
When the summer began, Arsenal were reported to have targeted a top class goalkeeper, a center back, a right back, a defensive midfielder, a winger, and a world class striker. With the summer window shut, Arsenal have signed a decent goalkeeper, no defenders, Mathieu Flamini to play in midfield, and Mesut Ozil. They retained Nicklas Bendtner instead of signing a top class center forward. A thorough analysis of the Arsenal squad shows that they have not covered any of their weaknesses.
They signed Emiliano Viviano as goalkeeping backup to Szczesny, but he is not an improvement on the Polish youngster. Mathieu Flamini may be an ex-Arsenal man, but he is not the top drawer defensive midfielder Wenger originally wanted (the likes of Lars Bender and Marouane Fellaini were sought after). Their defense still lacks depth, particularly at right back where Bacary Sagna is a shadow of the player he was, and they are an Olivier Giroud injury away from having to rely on the profligate Nicklas Bendtner for goals.
The signing of Ozil will excite Arsenal’s fans, players, and coaches, of that there is no doubt. However, when the excitement wears off and we are in the tough months of the season (December, Janaury, February), Arsenal will realize that they have made a mistake this summer. They needed different players to Ozil if they were to push forward and challenge for the Premier League and Champions League trophies. While Ozil is a huge statement signing, he must be the beginning of an influx of top players, not the exception.
Arsenal matches are going to be even more exciting this season. While Ozil may not shore up Arsenal at the back, he will bring an added level of quality to their attack. His combination play with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott will be a sight to behold.
Arsenal fans must be realistic about this season. Ozil will not cover up the team’s other weaknesses. As long as they stay in the Champions League spots and challenge for a trophy, 13/14 should be considered a successful season. Then they can strengthen in January and next summer to form a squad as strong as the ones boasted by Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea.