Does Mesut Ozil Move to Arsenal Give Them Better Attacking Midfield Than Spurs?
After a long summer of frustration and anxiety for Arsenal fans with boss Arsene Wenger not spending in the transfer market, deadline day looks to have held the key to the biggest transfer of all, with Mesut Ozil completing his move to the Gunners.
It's a high-cost move, a record-breaking one, in fact, but the quality Ozil will bring to the Emirates makes it more than worth the wait.
David Ornstein at BBC Sport was reporting that the move, worth around an estimated £42 million, was close to going through during the afternoon on deadline day, before Goal.com's Wayne Veysey tweeted his understanding of confirmation of the deal.
Mesut Ozil is now an Arsenal player. Fee: £40m. Contract: 5 years, £130,000-a-week. Club-record signing & highest (current) earner.— Wayne Veysey (@wayneveysey) September 2, 2013
Ozil's arrival will be rightly heralded as a magnificent coup for the Gunners, and he will be expected to bring a level of creativity and invention to the side that few others in world football can match. While the German national side has been largely built to suit his strengths, Real Madrid opted for the talents of Gareth Bale in their big-money switch, leaving Ozil to decide that his own future lay elsewhere.
Sunday's Premier League match between Arsenal and their rival neighbours, Tottenham Hotspur, was billed by some as the derby between the spendthrifts and the splash-the-cash, but Ozil's arrival eclipses any fee paid by Spurs this summer—despite them breaking their own transfer record three times.
Far more significantly, it also surely gives the Gunners the edge in having a more talented and well-rounded line of attacking midfielders providing service to their striker.
Attacking Midfield Options
For all of Tottenham's big spending on attacking players this summer, they have perhaps not quite managed to outstrip Arsenal in terms of regular starting XI quality in this area of the pitch.
It might be some time, of course, before the new recruits settle into a rhythm playing with so many new faces. Far from all of them were available to throw straight in against Arsenal, but a lack of goalscoring chances has been a theme of the start to their season.
Much emphasis will be placed on Christian Eriksen, having signed from Ajax, to provide clear chances on goal from a central attacking midfield area for Spurs. Movement into the penalty area from the likes of Erik Lamela will also be key.
Spurs opted for a 4-2-3-1 system in the North London derby on Sunday, a mirror of Arsenal's own plans, so the possibility for direct comparison is clear.
The likeliest trio of attacking midfielders for Tottenham to field on a regular basis, in a strongest possible attack, would be Nacer Chadli to the left, Lamela to the right and Eriksen in the No. 10 role.
And Arsenal? Last year, they opted for new signing Santi Cazorla in a central role, where he was extremely successful in creating chances and scoring goals himself. An injury this year to Lukas Podolski, though, and the departure of Gervinho, will likely mean he now shifts to the left side, as he has done plenty of times before while in Spain.
Ozil will take his rightful place up centrally, with Theo Walcott continuing on the right.
In terms of pace, creativity and on-the-ball technique, Arsenal have the nod here in this critical area of the pitch. Eriksen may prove a steal at the amount Spurs paid for him, but he is not in the same class as Mesut Ozil.
Cazorla's movement and intelligence will likely see the Spaniard have a bigger impact on the scoresheet now this term, with Ozil in place to find his diagonal runs into the box from wider areas.
One area where Spurs could still have the edge will be in direct goal tallies from this second line of attack. They will hope that Argentine attacker Lamela settles quickly and finds his goalscoring form of last season to ease some of the burden on striker Roberto Soldado.
Starting Quality vs. Depth in Numbers
On the left side of that three in particular, Spurs appear to have opted for a number of possible first-team starters without a single standout candidate to play every game.
Andros Townsend, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon and Lewis Holtby will all battle for places in the attacking midfield line when fit, while Moussa Dembele could also easily be pushed further forward into the No. 10 role.
Arsenal have Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to come into those three positions, as well as the injured Podolski and youngster Ryo Miyaichi. Wenger will likely use Jack Wilshere in a deeper role this term rather than bring in more specialised holding central midfielders.
Spurs have the depth to contend with injuries in attacking midfield without a significant drop in quality—but that quality, in this area of the pitch at least, is below that of Arsenal once more.
Spurs' Weaker Position Offset by Defence?
Goals win games, true, but with two out of the first three weeks of Premier League football this season showing a remarkably low number of goals going in, clean sheets and tight defences are also of vital importance.
Who has the better first-choice line of three attacking midfielders?
To that end, Spurs will hope that significant strengthening of the defensive and central midfield areas of their squad—Paulinho and Etienne Capoue will outshine Mathieu Flamini's return to Arsenal—will see them pull back some ground on their rivals.
Will it be enough to see off Arsenal and finally finish above them in the Premier League? Is Spurs' all-round squad good enough to challenge even about fourth place and have loftier ambitions?
The next nine months will reveal many secrets, but one thing that is for certain, which everybody already knows, is that Mesut Ozil is a wonderful addition to the Premier League. Arsenal's side is improved significantly by his signing.
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