Mesut Ozil will take Arsenal to new heights in every way.

On September 2nd 2013, Arsenal Football Club made a signing which could transform the future of the club in ways that I never thought any one signing could do. Signing Mesut Ozil for fifty million euros is a giant leap for this club, and one that will have long lasting effects. I’ll attempt to discuss some of them here. Let’s begin…

I’ll start with the most immediate and obvious effect. Ozil is really quite good at playing football. He played an average of 52 games a season for Real Madrid, scoring a total of 27 goals. In 105 La Liga games he made 47 assists and created 324 chances for his teammates. He’s a truly brilliant creative midfielder. Read this piece by @MoarFootball for a much more in depth look at Ozil as a player http://gb1886.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/majestic-mesut-moves-to-arsenal-an-in-depth-look-at-the-signing/ .The uproar in Madrid (the Real side anyway) should say a lot about the quality of Ozil. Players like Ronaldo and Ramos have been saddened by the sale of one of their best and most important teammates. Not only this, but his departure from Madrid has overshadowed the arrival of Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive player of all time. Not bad for a player we bought for half of Bale’s fee. Let there be no doubts as to the quality of the strange looking German from Gelschenkirchen.

This signing, the most expensive in Arsenal’s history, has lifted the mood of the fans to unrecognisable levels. It was only a couple of weeks ago that most people (myself included) were on a ledge preparing to jump after the loss to Villa and the lack of squad strengthening. Now however, things are different. I have never seen such consistent happiness on my Twitter timeline. Ever. Also, a staggering number of umlauts have been showing up everywhere. The new found enthusiasm this deal has instilled in the fans has been shown in shirt sales. Thousands upon thousands of Ozil shirts have already been ordered, and as Ozil shows his quality on the pitch, the sales will continue to rise. Investment by the club means investment by the fans.

This is a huge statement of ambition by Arsenal. The three clubs ahead of us feel threatened now, that’s how good Ozil is. Jose Mourinho refused to let Demba Ba go to Arsenal, as he felt it would make Arsenal much too strong after the signing of Ozil. He sees us as title contenders. Not only that, but signing such a fantastic player shows that we aren’t happy with fourth place every year, and that our aspirations are much, much higher than that. Added to this, many Arsenal players have expressed their delight at the signing of Ozil. This shows to them too that we want to be the best we can, which means that it is extremely unlikely that any of the players start to disagree with the direction that the club is going in. Ahem.

Having supremely talented players leads to more supremely talented players wanting to join your club. Ozil is certainly one of those players. What striker wouldn’t love to play in front of Ozil? He increases the clubs attractiveness to other big name players by quite a bit. Hopefully, Ozil will be the catalyst for more great players to join Arsenal, the sort of players we had hoped would flock to Arsenal once the Emirates had been built.

Jack Wilshere has had his problems while playing in the centre of midfield. His defensive responsibilities were often neglected in mazy dribbles down the field. This may have been due to the fact that Jack was used to playing further up the field, so he found it hard to adapt. However, now that Ozil has arrived, there is pretty much no chance that Jack will be playing as an attacking midfielder any time soon. This means he will be completely focused on developing his game in centre midfield, which can only be a good thing.

Arsene Wenger has shown his unparalleled quality as a manager with this coup. Once again, when the chips were down, his back was against the wall, and other inane cliches, he produced the goods and left everyone smiling. I was questioning him after the Villa loss, but the great man has pulled another rabbit out of the hat. He deserves tremendous respect for pulling this deal off, and hopefully he will get an easier time from the fans if things go wrong on occasion. He has made mistakes, but when Ozil starts threading passes which split defences constantly, Wenger will be vindicated.

As was seen against Tottenham in the North London Derby, player unity, team spirit, and an inside-out knowledge of what your teammate will do is more important than buying a host of new first team players. We have an excellent platform to build on, having gone unbeaten at the tail end of last season and keeping 9 clean sheets in 13 matches. People questioned whether we needed Ozil or not, but when you add a sprinkle of “top, top quality” to a team that already functions pretty well, something great can happen. I hate to reference them, or him, but Manchester United didn’t look like they needed van Persie, but they added him anyway and he was that extra bit of quality that they needed. I’m not saying that we’ll win the title, but we could be in for a special season.

The signing of Mesut Ozil will kickstart a new era at Arsenal Football Club. An era where the best of the best want to come to one of the best stadiums in Europe to play for a fantastic manager, a fantastic team, and fantastic fans. An era where Arsenal win. An era where Arsenal are feared again.

As always, thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers. You can follow me on Twitter @StrongAsTheOx. Until next time!

Theo Walcott-Legend in the making?

Welcome back to the StrongAsTheOx blog! It’s been too long, or depending on your viewpoint, not long enough. I’ve been a bit busy recently, and will continue to be busy for the rest of the season, but I’ll try to post more frequently.

"He's posting again"

“He’s posting again”

Anyway, enough about me. Time to talk about the subject of today’s post: Theo Walcott, and his potential to become an Arsenal legend. First though, let’s talk about his career before his excellent current season.
We bought the rapid 23 year old from Southampton in January 2006 for 12 million pounds. He was only 16 years old. Due to his age and the price we payed for his services he was surrounded by pressure and hype. He failed to make an appearance that season, but still managed to get a place on England’s 2006 World Cup squad. Again though, he failed to make an appearance and this piled more pressure on the youngster as people began to suspect he wasn’t worth the hype.

As his career went on more and more people began to question him as he struggled to find consistency. He became an enigma. For every brace against Birmingham or mazy run against Liverpool there were many games where he just didn’t show up.

This led to his detractors being a lot more vocal and numerous than his supporters. Pundits with no football brain of their own said he didn’t have one. In fairness, the stats largely backed their beliefs. Before the 10/11 season he had only scored 9 times and had provided 21 assists in 86 appearances.

Things started to turn around for Theo after that, but he could never quite shake the inconsistency tag off. The North London Derby of February 2012 was a turning point for him and his relationship with the fans.
The first half typified his earlier career. He was Gervinho-esque, losing the ball and making poor decisions. The crowd were completely on his back. His second half performance set the tone for the rest of his career so far though. He was a completely different player. He was strong, making intelligent runs, and his finishing was deadly.

Redemption

Redemption

Since then he is almost unrecognisable from the player he was before. He has been delivering the qualities we saw on rare occasions in a lot of games now. He has already scored 11 goals in the league this season, and has provided 10 assists, leading to people comparing him to Henry. How times change.

These stats are in stark comparison to earlier seasons, and if he continues improving in the manner he is, he can become an Arsenal legend. He has already beaten his personal best goal tally for the season, and is only 3 assists away from beating his 13 assists from last season. But we barely need stats to tell us how much Theo has improved. It’s obvious to anyone with a football brain…

Despite his much improved performances though, he still is unappreciated by a lot of fans. Why this is, I have no clue. The Chelsea away game was a perfect example. Theo was better than Giroud in that game, and scored a goal, but Giroud got all the plaudits. We need to start appreciating Theo more if we expect him to stay loyal.

Another thing that Theo doesn’t get enough credit for is sticking with us. Many of the players who left us could have become legends due to their prodigious talent, but because of greed or general cunt-ishness decided to leave. Theo didn’t. He chose to stay and fight when he didn’t have to, and when it certainly would’ve been easier to go elsewhere. For this he deserves our admiration.
Theo signing da ting

Another thing that is vital is Theo’s importance to the newly formed British core at the club. We focus on the brilliance of Jack so much that we often forget that Theo is the most experienced of the British lads and has a lot of advice to offer them. Jack will end up as captain one day, but the inspiration Theo offers now will be vital to the development of Jack, Kieran, Carl, Aaron and Alex.

So that’s why I think Theo can and will become a legend here. He is crucial to this team now, and will be one of the key men in our push for the top 4.

Enough with the comparisons to Henry too. He was never Thierry. He isn’t Thierry. He will never be Thierry. He is Theo Walcott, and he will be an Arsenal legend.

As always, thank you for reading. If you enjoyed, please leave a comment, or tweet me @StrongAsTheOx. If you could share this wherever you could it would be appreciated. ‘Til next time

Fire everything!Wait,there’s another plan?!

Finally,there is a plan B. Or at least there should be. For years we have lacked an alternative plan when things went pear-shaped. When we needed to change things up we just didn’t have the options. Now though, we DO have the options, and that could lead to success this season. Last season is a prime example of our inability to change when we need to. Champions League second leg versus AC Milan. We needed just one goal to equalise. We couldn’t do it, so the only option was to bring on the well known goal machines Chamakh and Park. This obviously didn’t work, and we crashed out. There will be no excuses if that happens this season.

Plan A (maybe) Route One Football?! Obviously its a bit more complicated than that,but in essence this is what the technically limited sides do. Our system will be quite similar to this when everyone is used to each other (and learns how to bloody cross!). We bomb it down the wings with our pacey and skillful players (Ox, Gervinho, Pod, Arshavin? Per….), who cross it in to Giroud, who will either head it in himself, or flick it on to Cazorla and/or any other onrushing players. I watched Montpellier quite a bit last season, and this is what they did. Belhanda loved playing behind Olly because he constantly benefited from his flicks, and Cazorla will too. We have attempted to play this type of game in the last three or four games, to varying levels of success. When Podolski put in a decent cross against West Ham Giroud used his awareness and intelligence to poke it in. We saw him do this against Spain too. He is not on the same level as RVP, but his movement reminds me of him sometimes and we need to use this more. Against Norwich and Schalke we were just too crap to do anything for him . BUT against QPR we put in a cross for him. And we scored from it. He didn’t directly assist, but his height and strength confused the R’s defenders which eventually led to Arteta’s goal. When we give him the right delivery he will cause goals. We just need to consistently deliver the ball he needs. Could Arshavin be that man? Stay tuned….

"Was he hinting at an Arshavin post??"

“Was he hinting at an Arshavin post??”

Plan B-A False 9? We have used this tactic a few times this season as well, also to varying degrees of success. It can be compared to the tactic Spain used in the Euros. They played no legitimate striker, with two players interchanging from the wing, which confused defenders, as they didn’t know who to mark. Gervinho and Podolski  are the two players who we have used in this way so far. When Gervinho is on form, this is hard to stop. But more often than not he isn’t on form. He’s injured now which opens the door for Walcott to fill this role if necessary. Theo has been on top form when brought on this season and we shouldn’t let contract disputes get in the way of a player like him playing. He has developed so much, and his finishing is now deadly. This tactic will be effective against teams with slow defenders with high lines, as they won’t be able to keep up with the interchange.

Plan C- Two up front? This is something we havn’t used this season, or any other season for quite some time. @goonerdave66 is an avid advocate of a 4-4-2, and I believe a subtle variation of this will suit us well. We were the most successful we have ever been with two up front and four in midfield and I think we could return to winning ways with this. I think a 4-1-2-1-2 formation will suit us best. I will do a shortened version, but @GB1886 wrote a fantastic piece about this and other things here http://gb1886.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/a-change-in-formation/ . I envisage Arteta playing the Gilberto role- breaking down attacks, setting up counter attacks etc. I think he will be better at this than even Gilberto himself was, as Arteta is more technically gifted. This formation allows The Ox, Ramsey, Wilshere and Diaby etc to flourish in their natural positions. Whoever plays in the two midfield roles will be vital. They will both be Viera and Pires, bursting backwards and forwards, but also getting wide when necessary.  The two full backs will also provide width. Cazorla/Arshavin/Rosicky will be the main creators. This will work out well for everyone. Cazorla will be first choice, but we will finally be able to see our little Russian in his preferred positon and he can be deadly there. Up top will be Giroud and Podolski/Walcott.This is important, as Theo will finally be able to play up front like he wants. The team would play like I outlined in Plan A.  Another VITAL part of this formation is that Chamakh, yes THAT Chamakh can play in this formation! He always thrived with a partner, and this will suit him down to the ground. We saw against Blackburn and Norwich last season that he can be quite decent, and this game plan will be the best platform for him to finally prove himself. I see no issues with this formation, and it will be interesting to see if Mr Wenger will use it.

Our possible line up

Our possible line up

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or tweeting me @CiansBlog. Thank you for reading and take care.

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