Why Santi Cazorla Will Be Key to Mesut Ozil's Success on the Field for Arsenal
You can never have too much of a good thing.
In the wake of Arsenal's record-breaking move for Mesut Ozil, some fans could be forgiven for wondering aloud whether or not Arsenal really need another creative midfielder. However, the simple fact remains that when an opportunity to sign a player as talented as Ozil arises, you can't let it pass you by.
Arsene Wenger has a history of subverting our expectations when it comes to signings. In January 2009, Arsenal appeared to be in desperate need of a central defender. Wenger, in typically contrary style, threw caution to the wind and signed Russia’s idiosyncratic attacker Andrey Arshavin.
This week Wenger defied calls for a striker or holding midfielder to move for the man Jose Mourinho described as the best No. 10 in the world.
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos is in no doubt about Ozil’s quality. He told The Mirror:
I am very unhappy after the exit of Ozil. For me, he was a friend and a companion. Mesut is a special footballer who generates and plays the beautiful side of the game.
If it was up to me then he would never have left. But it was the choice of the club. But I am totally convinced he will be a star at Arsenal.
He is the king of the assist. I know Santi Cazorla well and together they will be an enormous spectacle. But I will miss him.
It is intriguing that Ramos hits upon Ozil’s forthcoming link-up with Santi Cazorla.
Both men would seem to operate in the same areas of the pitch. They both enjoy finding gaps between the midfield and the striker, floating between the lines to find space.
However, there’s no reason they can’t play in combination. Both players are versatile enough to operate on the flank as well as through the middle.
In the second half of last season, Santi Cazorla played predominantly from the left-hand side of the Arsenal attack. With Lukas Podolski sidelined with a hamstring injury, Cazorla seems primed to resume that role again.
That would enable Ozil to supplant Tomas Rosicky as the spearhead and creative hub of the Arsenal midfield.
German football journalist Raphael Honigstein is in no doubt about that being Ozil’s best position. He told Arsenal.com:
I think the strongest position for Ozil is centrally, behind the striker because it also relieves him a little bit of the duty to run up and down, which isn't really his game and doesn't really bring the best out of him. He needs the time and space for himself to come up with a real genius idea.
Theo Walcott is likely to continue on the right flank. His pace and direct running will provide a neat contrast to the intricate passing and creativity of Arsenal’s other attacking midfielders.
If Cazorla and Ozil can strike up an effective partnership, Arsenal could be set to re-establish themselves as the Premier League’s most aesthetically-pleasing outlet. Arsenal’s 10-match unbeaten run at the end of the last season was impressive, but rather ugly. The Gunners found a way of grinding out results that was in stark contrast to their reputation for free-flowing football.
The Gunners could be about to revert to type. Ozil and Cazorla can make Arsenal beautiful again. If these two creative geniuses quickly find a way to work in tandem, Arsenal could soon become competitive as well as cultured.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013/14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.
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