Mesut Ozil Needs to Show Consistent Genius at Arsenal to Reach the Next Level

Guillem BalagueFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01:  Mesut Oezil  #11of Arsenal is congratulated by teammate Aaron Ramsey #16 after scoring the opening goal during UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal FC and SSC Napoli at Emirates Stadium on October 1, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Unbeaten since the first day of the season and standing proud in pole position with maximum points from their first two Champions League Group F matches, Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Napoli tells us much. 

While Arsene Wenger is probably too nice to say, "I told you so," this Arsenal sidewhich also stands at the top of the Premier Leagueis proof that it is invariably the manager who knows best in this business.

As the team improves, it is now dawning on Arsenal fansmany of whom were calling for Wenger’s head not so long agothat this obsession for new names and faces all the time is not always all it’s cracked up to be.  

Seeing the same faces all the time may be boring, but what it can bring you as a player, if you are allowed to keep on playing, is the ability to gain in confidence and play that bit better. 

Aaron Ramsey is probably the best example of that this season, but so is someone like Per Mertesacker, who is now looking like a quality centre-back.

Obviously, the arrival of Mesut Ozil has given everyone at the club a lift.

It reminds me very much of what happened at Middlesbrough years ago, when the arrival of Gaizka Mendieta acted as an inspiration to the North East side. 

Ozil was a respected a figure among his former Real Madrid teammates.
Ozil was a respected a figure among his former Real Madrid teammates.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Before we all get too carried away by the undoubtedly impressive Ozil, I do have a slight reservation. 

Ozil is a man for the big games, a man motivated by what happened to him at Real Madrid and how he perceives he was treated there.

He is also now considered to be the superstar that he has wanted to be all along, with all the commensurate respect that accompanies that position.

He always plays, everything goes through him and both fans and players alike treat him as a top player, something that he didn’t get from the fans and the media at Real Madrid, although I know from my contacts at Madrid that his class was never doubted by any of his teammates at the Bernabeu. 

Now to go along with the extra fizz that he has brought to the Emirates, he needs to add a level of consistency. If he does that at Arsenal, it will be a first. 

But what of Napoli? Unbeaten in six league games this season, with five wins, their performance told us everything we needed to know about the present state of the Italian league.

A lot of tactics, but what you see close up is not clever. Worse still, it's out of date. 

A defence that lacks intensity, spends much of the time ball-watching but without demonstrating the slightest evidence of synchronized movement is something you may get away with in that time warp that is Serie A, but you’re going to get found out when you start to travel. 

A rejuvenated, confident Arsenal hit the floor running on a fast, expansive, well-watered surface with a first-half display of crisp passing that was always going to guarantee a difficult night for Napoli. 

Rafa Benitez is working against lifetime habits of defending in numbers instead of cleverly, and will know better than anyone that his side will have to improve if it wants to feature prominently at European and domestic levels.