Tag Archives: german

The Ozil saga – The final chapter

The amount of negativity that revolves around the Arsenal fanbase is probably more than most others.

It’s a diverse, objectional and mine-filled group that can be filled with fantastic titbits of history about the club, great, educated opinions – regularly interspersed with hate-filled posts and stuff to generally avoid.

The ‘Great Ozil Saga’ has been the petrol that has not only lit the touchpaper in recent years – but incinerated it.

Who would have thought that it would have ended in this ignominious way when it was revealed in 2014 that we had signed him.

It was joyous.

The scenes unfolding on Sky Sports News during their famed Transfer deadline Day footage are now part of meme culture. The presenter was buffeted by raucous Gooners, screaming Ozil’s name as it was confirmed we had broken our transfer record to sign one of the best playmakers in the world.

Ozil, a genius with the ball. Able to see round corners, through walls. The German could thread a ball through a gap smaller than a gnat’s kneecap. And he was coming to Arsenal.

What made it even more incredible, more overwhelming, is that it was breaking a cycle of underwhelming years that meant we were without a trophy for nine long years.

Not that the media let us forget that of course. Our trophy drought was far longer than tottenham’s 862 year wait for a significant trophy. Or the fact that media darlings, Liverpool, hadn’t won the title since moustache’s and shellsuits the killer combo (they still are in parts of Merseyside and always will be).

Yep, the slide of Wenger, the restricting budgets and payback of loans combined to see Arsenal fight to keep their head above water in terms of the precious Champions League income. Instead of looking up as were promised when The Emirates was built, we were treading water at best.

And the ring of placards that showcased our trophy haul that circled the interior of our stadium? That hadn’t been added to since it had been built.

But Ozil signing was the reminder that we all needed about the stature of our club and the respect Wenger still commanded in Europe.

Make no mistake, it was Big Weng that ensured Ozil shunned all other offers and came to North London. Our brand of football and his own brand of management sat well with the oft-fragile Ozil. The flexibility too, that was key.

Ozil would be given the key to The Carpet, in a bid to recreate the wonders he performed at the Santiago Bernabeu.

And at times, he did.

We won our FA Cup in 2014, we had ended the hoodoo and we had already seen in flashes what Ozil could do. His first-time finish on his debut against Napoli is still so soothing to watch. How he caresses the ball with the side of his foot and the unerring way the ball veers home.

From there, his standing was only enforced when we signed Alexis.

Two geniuses in the team, they bounced off each other. True, we had to adapt the team to fit Alexis in. And often, the Chilean was a tad too selfish. But they brought the best out of each other and the one season where Ozil nearly reached his ceiling – when he equalled the record for most assists in a single season – was when he and Alexis were keeping us afloat. It is still a tragedy that Ozil didn’t break the record. With so many games to go, he only had to get one more – but a profligate Giroud was at least part to blame.

From there though, it has gone downhill fast.

Alexis leaves. Wenger leaves. In comes Emery and a system that cries out for invention, but places other demands on Ozil.

It doesn’t work.

Then Arteta comes in and opens the floor to all players. Adopt my system and you will earn success. All players will play their part.

But Ozil didn’t do enough in his time under the Arteta spotlight. A run of 13 games last season saw that the German simply doesn’t fit the narrative. Team pressing, team orders and unity – whereas Ozil needs the ability to buck tactics and float, sensing the danger and exacerbating it with a killer pass. He is a one-man show.

But we cannot sacrifice our progress for one player. Like him or loath him, he is still supremely talented. But his boots just don’t fit at Arsenal any more.

That makes no excuse for how it has ended – and there will be more to come from this saga after he does leave.

At least we can all agree that when we signed him – we were all happy?

Sven and the Broken Regime

Nobody likes change.

 

So when Arsene Wenger finally departed after twenty two years at the helm of Arsenal, many worried what came next.

 

It was the unknown, our path was not set, but we could latch onto the fact that the club had started to put some foundations into place that would carry us through the uncertainty.

 

Our squad may have been severely unbalanced, and we had no idea if we would have what it took to fight back and gain entry into the vital money source of the Champions League, but a few additions to our backroom staff meant we would be able to rebuild for the future.

 

Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi had pedigree. The German had forged a reputation as one of the best talent spotters in Europe. Mislintat had found glints of light and knew they could be polished up to become precious jewels. The players he found at Borussia Dortmund can attest to his quality. Aubameyang, Dembele, Sokratis, Kagawa and more, Mislintat could see the player they would become before anyone else.

 

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Sanllehi was sourced from Barca, and his previous employment showed he could oversee many different facets of a top European club. There were other appointments, Fahmy, Mertesacker, Ljungberg etc were part of the new guard – one that was supposed to herald in a new, revitalised approach that gave responsibility to experts in their field, rather than the old model that had one man overseeing everything.

 

With Wenger and then Gazidis leaving the club, the watershed had hit us, and we could see the path that the club was on.

 

With Mislintat leaving though, apparently at odds with Sanllehi, it leaves us in the limbo of uncertainty again.

 

It is rumoured that former Gunner Edu, currently working in a technical capacity for the Brazil national team, but will the Brazilian have the all-encompassing football knowledge of how a club operates like Mislintat does? With the German’s hopes of his role growing rather than being pigeon-holed into that of a talent spotter, Mislintat can be forgiven for looking elsewhere. He was supposed to be integral to the evolution of the club – but instead, this period of transition for Arsenal is being sworn in by Sanllehi and new Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham, without the vision of Mislintat.

 

Bayern Munich seems to be a likely destination for the German, where he not only will be given a firmer handle on the reins – given his burgeoning reputation – but he will also not be hamstrung by miniscule budgets. If he identifies a target, then the club will listen.

 

It was hard enough for the club to finally give in and bring about change at the managerial level, but with one of the puzzle pieces of our future regime leaving, we will undoubtedly be put back a few steps. Plus, Mislintat is a genuine asset to the club, one we could dearly need.

 

Our defence will need a vast overhaul very soon. Captain Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, these are all 30 or over. Even if they are all fit, we have needed an injection of defensive skill for some time. With those players on the wrong end of their playing capability, Mislintat could have been given a mission to find the next Arsenal defence. Now we may not spot the next defensive lynchpin we so badly require.

 

Sven Mislintat departing the club may be overlooked by some, but with the raft of changes the club has undergone recently, Sven was part of the new regime, and also had a responsibility to find the last few pieces of the puzzle.

 

We may have to wait longer now to see the finished article, and Arsenal could become a perennial Europa League team, instead of the reputation we have forged as a Champions League club. This may be even harder to replace.

Sokratis Signs For Arsenal – Here’s What To Know About Our New Defender

Sokratis Papastathopoulos has finally signed on the dotted line for Arsenal, after a delay in officially announcing the defender.

In what must be one of the worst kept secrets in recent transfer windows, Sokratis has signed and been declared a Gunner after joining from Borussia Dortmund after five years with the German club – for a fee thought to be around 17.7m.
The 30 year old was officially declared by the club yesterday, but what do we know about our new defender?


Well, we know that former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel has said Sokratis is ‘obsessed’ by defending, and that he is Vice Captain for Greece. He was at Werder Bremen before joining BVB, and has a fixation on the backline perhaps thanks to his time in Italy with AC Milan and Genoa.

Sokratis joins Bernd Leno and Stephane Lichtsteiner as Arsenal new boys this summer, and will also join up with former Dortmund teammates Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A sure fire sign that Sven Mislintat is involved heavily in the recent recruitment process.

Sokratis revealed to the Arsenal media team he had spoken to his former comrades about joining, saying “I spoke to them a lot. They said to me the best thing about the club is that it’s one big family and of course they called me a lot of times telling me to come here.”

Sokratis, when asked about his thoughts on his new club, said “Arsenal is one of the biggest three teams in the Premier League, and one very big club. It has a lot of fans and a big history.. I’m very happy to be here to help the team.”

Sokratis is another recruited player from this summer that ticks the ‘experienced’ box. With Stephane Lichtsteiner also in the 30 and over bracket and with heaps of top flight and international experience, It would seem Arsenal’s new boss is focusing on making an immediate impact, rather than looking to making a splash in the future.

It is also a big plus, as we have all been able to see we need a steady hand at the back with leadership qualities – especially when the ship is rocking. With both Lichtsteiner and Sokratis in the backline, we will have that reassuring influence that we have been wanting for quite some time.

With Laurent Koscielny out until at least December, it gives Calum Chambers and Sokratis time to gel and forge what could be an impregnable bedrock. The Greek defender can also help his Greek compatriot who shone briefly toward the end of last season and is another Sven Mislintat recruit – Konstandinos Mavropanos.

Sokratis ‘ main strength is his physicality, and his obsessive desire for clean sheets, which sees him put his body on the line when the pressure is on – something he will expect from his teammates. He is also half decent in the air at the back and on set-pieces, although his goal ratio is hardly prolific, with only eight goals in nearly 200 appearances for Dortmund, Bremen and AC Milan.

Our new recruit will give us immediate resources at the back and could be an astute signing and a valuable player for our defence, who sorely needed a player of his stature in some hairy moments last season.

Welcome to Arsenal, our new Number 5 – Sokratis!

Sven Mislintat – the Diamond Eye of Talent Spotting

Arsenal have been busy overhauling their backroom staff in the last couple of years.

Shad Forsythe, Jens Lehmann, Huss Fahmy and Darren Burgess are all recent additions in varying capacities to Arsene Wenger’s network of coaching.

Now, the latest name to join that list is perhaps the most exciting – Sven Mislintat.

The German has joined us from Borussia Dortmund, and he will be taking up the role of Head of Recruitment. Mislintat will be taking over from club stalwart Steve Rowley, who will still be helping Arsenal on a freelance basis.

So, who is Sven Mislintat? And why is there such a fuss over him?







Well, Sven created a bit of a legacy at Dortmund. He started as a green scout just after BVB were declared bankrupt. Money was inevitably strictly budgeted, so a shrewdness to player acquisition had to be be a priority. This is where Mislintat grew into the man German journalists have dubbed ‘Diamond Eye.’

Mislintat is credited with the stellar careers of Shinki Kagawa, Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aside from Kagawa, Mislintat didn’t discover these players from ignominy, but he is responsible for highlighting that these players were destined for greatness. This is his talent.

He learned his trade from the old-school scouts who were at Dortmund, but has also embraced data into his vision. It is this all-encompassing view that has enabled Mislintat to alert his respective managers to players that they need to nurture rather than offload.

Simply put, Mislintat knows when a player is the real deal rather than a waste of time.

Old Diamond Eye is a Dortmund pedigree and was not seeking a move away from the club, but a falling out with Thomas Tuchel that led to Arsenal making enquiries. Apparently, Tuchel banned Mislintat from the inner circle of the club, and it was this that pushed the German into the welcoming arms of Arsenal.

His hiring has led to many questioning voices, wondering if this is a step toward preparing for a Wenger departure? You would have to say yes. Arsene has the rest of this season and one more until his latest contract extension ends, and it is looking doubtful that he will sign another with such doubt over the last few years results. Sven will not be joining for just a year, so if he is indeed in it for the long haul then he will be staying on when Wenger does depart. It is a necessary step in preparation to future-proof the club.

This move takes a smidgin of responsibility away from Wenger. He will undoubtedly still have the final say on any recommendations for players, but Mislintat will most likely take the lead on acquisitions. They both share the same vision on transfers, so this will help Mislintat acclimatise at Arsenal.

We have hired the cream of the crop in fitness, we have a new and un-ignorable voice as a coach (just try and not listen to Jens Lehmann) and from December, we will have a man who can revolutionise our recruitment policy.

Our club prides itself on creating diamonds rather than buying them, and with Sven ‘Diamond Eye’ Mislintat in our ranks, we can be hopeful this will continue. 

Mertesacker the Best Man to Lead Academy

Arsenal have been lucky enough to enjoy some of the finest exponents of the game wearing the cannon. Players who have illuminated the pitch with their talents and inspired millions of supporters.

These blessed men were given assets and they used them for the benefit of the club, and for this we must be thankful. Some of them though, never quite got on board with the ethos of The Arsenal – the fabled ‘Arsenal Way’ – and as such, the transition from playing titan to coach is one that is best done at another outfit.


Arsenal are not just a team, they are a way of life. It is the way you carry yourself, it is the manner in which you do everything, not just what you do on the pitch. Youngsters must first learn this before they wear the shirt for the first team.

Just like ‘Gentleman’ Bob Wilson said;


“It was this feeling you were wearing this big gun on your chest and everywhere you went, my word, you felt proud to be wearing it.”


So we can count ourselves lucky that we have a manager that looks to carry on these fine traditions. It is our identity and it means every new appointment behind the scenes – especially the coaching side – must be made with the sagest of decisions.














This is why Per Mertesacker’s posting as Head of the Arsenal Academy from next season is yet another brick in the foundation, and a continuation of the work that has taken place since 1886.


The lanky German has been front and centre of most media involvement from the moment the top of his head scraped the London Colney doorframe in 2011. So many Arsenal catalogue images of this gangly fellow on Arsenal emblazoned trikes, or ensconced in an Arsenal branded sleeping bag. On foreign tours he was first up to dress up and be the face of our own brand.


Per has not only been enthusiastic about representing Arsenal in any way, he has led the most professional of lives and reportedly trains diligently every week. In and out of the team in the last couple of years, Mertesacker has done nothing other than fight to force his way back into Wenger’s plans.


There are two key points though, that highlight just how effective the decision was to give Mertesacker the job of overseeing the next generation of Arsenal players.


Firstly, his performance in last season’s FA Cup Final was nothing short of miraculous. Not to diminish Big Per’s level of talent, but who expected the German to pull a performance like that out of the bag? No starts last season, up against title-winning Chelsea, and with a green defensive partner to keep an eye on, Mertesacker not only snuffed out the Blue threat for the majority, he did so without any nefarious methods. It was pure defending, and proof that pace may be useful, but just like Italian legend Paolo Maldini once said;


If I have to make a tackle, then I have already made a mistake.”


True dat Paolo.


We can also look to Mertesacker’s insistence on spreading his knowledge to the younger members of the squad, and his role as the senior member who all look to under moments of duress. Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Ozil and others have all mentioned how Per is the one to take players aside and set them back on track should their courses need correcting, or if anyone needs a stern talking to, then it is the big man himself who assumes the role.


Mertesacker, whenever he leads the line on the pitch, looks like he has the ear of everyone in the team. He has been a great leader for us, and now our Academy recruits can look forward to learning so much from this World Cup winner.


Mertesacker is au fait with The Arsenal Way, he adores the club, and we should all be delighted that his experience will be pumped back into the club rather than anywhere else. Our traditions will be carried on, and the kids will benefit from one of the wisest players available.

Spotlight on Ozil Brighter than Most

Published on Arsenal Mania.

Football has changed inexorably in the last decade. It has made the sport far more popular as access to every singular movement of a player is now accessible with a solitary click. Social networks provide ample platform for opinions, ideas and highlights to get an airing – rightly or wrongly. 

Along with the opportunity for every fan to have their say and for everything that occurs on the pitch to be viewed from a plethora of angles, the money involved in the sport has also transformed football as we knew it. 

The Premier League now attracts the finest exponents of football, be that players or managers. They come to these shores lured by the lucre and as a result, the heat of competition rises notch by notch. Every single game now carries more significance than before, as final standings mean more money, and better performances by the players also means more moolah. It’s a cash-fest.

Money unfortunately makes the world go round, and football is no different. Just look at the Chinese Super League in the last year for the purest of proof.Arsenal have not escaped this all-enncompassing money-malaise, and the club is a tightly run business with revenue streams rising to prominence alongside results on the pitch.

With the rude health Arsenal are in, it has allowed the Gunners to flash the cash a little. Granit Xhaka, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have all arrived at the club in recent years, and their transfer fees – whilst not record-breaking in the face of flagrant spending by others – still means that these flagship signings are expected to illuminate the stadium with their excellence. 

A judge of their worth is often made within a few games, such is the fickle nature of some. Pundits often court controversy which only serves to exacerbate readers and listeners and also greases the wheels of their own brand. It is self-serving, but it is where football is right now. 

Mesut Ozil is one who has seen his every languid move scrutinised by all and sundry. The German World Cup winner seemed to deal with the intense attention on his performances for the majority of his Arsenal career, but this season has seen a dip in his displays, and the concentration of eyes on Ozil has now become a maelstrom of ridicule, doubt and fierce judgment.

Does Ozil warrant this? He is still Arsenal’s record purchase and has been touted as one of the worlds best playmakers. When he has been on song, he has exhibited the deftest of touches and vision only matched by the Hubble Telescope. His high’s are so lofty that any fall will contrast starkly.

Ozil is also suffering from a loss of form. He isn’t merely on a plateau, he is well below what he is expected to do. This is undeniable, but does Ozil cop it a little worse than others?

Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva have at times this season gone missing. Silva especially, for games at a time, can produce no end product in terms of goals and assists. Yet, do they dominate back pages? Do their sub-par performances earn hours of talk on radio and TV?

Eden Hazard is a prime example. Last season he was a passenger for 35 games of Chelsea’s mediocre season – and the backlash from him giving Chelsea precious little bang for their buck pales into comparison when placed alongside the weekly reaction regarding our German enabler.

The one decisive factor regarding Ozil’s dip, is the loss of Santi Cazorla. When the Spaniard was fit and in the team, Ozil was firing away goals and laying chances on a plate with high frequency. Since Cazorla has been injured however, Ozil has had to shift his role to get the amount of ball he needs. Mesut Ozil and his assets of mass destruction can nulify any team – just look at his performances against Bayern last season and Chelsea this season – but he needs Santi there to transition defence to attack.

Ozil is the surgery knife, but Santi is the handle. Without him, Ozil is severely hampered.

Ozil’s class is undeniable, but we should be able to criticise when he is off of his game. There is a line in the sand though, where constructive criticism becomes lambasting to keep in with the rest. It’s peer pressure amongst pundits. 

A retrospective look at what has been written and said by ‘experts’ would help, so they could see that it really has become a witch-hunt. Especially when you consider his positional brethren who escape the flak on a regular basis.

Ozil deserves both sides of what the spotlight brings, but who could blame him if he departs? 

Mertesacker Signs Extension

Originally featured on Goonersphere.

The news of club Captain Per Mertesacker being offered and signing a one year extension to his current contract was met with a mixed reception by Gooners, but while fans may be unmoved by the German’s extended stay, there are a raft of positives to consider too.

The lanky German has yet to play a minute this season after injuring his knee in pre-season, and it appears it may be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for Mertesacker. 

The severity of his injury and the occasional wobble last season forced Wenger’s hand into purchasing Shkodran Mustafi, and his fellow German has taken to the Arsenal backline like pickled cabbage to bratwurst. 

Mustafi has a great record in a Gunners jersey, and his budding partnership with Laurent Koscielny has reinvigorated our defence. The decision to bring in the German from Valencia looks to be a shrewd one, but as Mustafi found his feet quickly and began to assert himself upon Gooners affections, the man he was brought in to replace was fighting hard to regain fitness.

The defender known as ‘BFG’ has not rested on his laurels. He has recognised the challenge that faces him in regards to gaining sufficient playing time and regaining fitness and has sought to overcome them. 

Mertesacker has taken up yoga in a bid to strengthen his limbs and aid his rehabilitation, all the while he has also done his duty for the club and taken part in the various events that involve being part of a global franchise.

When the moment comes that Per is included in a matchday squad, it is clear that he will be understudy to Shkodran Mustafi and Koscielny. There will come a time when his services are called upon though, and we should have no doubt that he can perform more than adequately for the team he so clearly is devoted to.

Fans who express concern over his pace are one hundred percent correct to do so. Mertesacker has all the speed of an overweight panda trying to scratch its nether regions. The thing is though, we knew that when we signed him. Also, he was the same speed when he picked up the majority of his Germany caps, and they deemed him more than fast enough to be part of their plans for world domination.

Mertesacker is not our first choice defender. People who think that offering him an extension is a bad decision though? How can it be a bad decision?

His defensive nous is far better than Gabriel’s and Rob Holding’s. His aerial ability is just as good as his colleagues. His distribution is far better than a defender should be able to boast of, and his tendency to vocalise his opinions on the pitch give him an air of leadership that few in the squad can muster.

To decry this decision as madness is madness in itself. The outlook that he is taking up a valuable squad space that someone better can use is simply wrong. Gabriel is strong in some areas, but it can be successfully argued that his weaknesses amount to a bigger deficiency than Mertesacker. In Rob Holding we have a true starlet, but he needs experience and a mentor. Well, Mertesacker has been touted as a future coach purely for his attitude and ethics toward the kids at London Colney.

What about bringing someone in who is better? Ok, we would need to bring in someone who is not established as they would not be happy to sit on the bench behind our current first choice pairing. They would have to be experienced, but satisfied with playing a bit-part role. 

Know anyone? 

Mertesacker can come into the team and out seamlessly as he knows the tactics and his cohorts inside out. He is experienced, still talented and he can ensure two of the brightest prospects at our club – Calum Chambers and Rob Holding – have all the information and protection they need to succeed. 

Mertesacker staying for another season is a good thing, on and off the pitch. 

Ozil Waits On Wenger 

When Mesut Ozil signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2013, the German made it abundantly clear that his decision to leave the glitz of Real Madrid and sign for the Gunners was down to one man – Arsene Wenger.

The cynical among us will also point toward his princely wages as another thing that would have swayed his decision-making process and they would have a point. What undermines this particular topic is that although the weekly amount he earns for his services is amongst the highest in the league, it is an amount he could have recieved if he had moved to any other large scale club.

Mesut Ozil has previously focused on the confidence Wenger has in him and the professional candour he shares with his playmaker. The relationship between each of them is of respect and the fact his Boss rates him and expects so much of him is bound to make Ozil feel far taller than he actually is. 

Imagine if you went into work and your boss pulled you aside for a ‘chat.’ After immediately questioning what rules you might have broken over the course of the last month, you would sit down and wonder why they have decided to focus on you. What have you done to deserve this? Then fast forward to ten minutes later after they have told you in no uncertain terms how brilliant you really are – you would float out of that office and your work would benefit as a result. 

Man management is a whole different type of role that a modern day gaffer must incorporate into their day-to-day job. It is not enough anymore to pick an optimum system for the team and scout the next few opponents effectively. Each precocious talent requires a different tact to lure the best out of them. 

Mesut Ozil needs to feel trusted. He requires that bond between he and his manager. Wenger believes in Ozil, and the majority of the fans do to. His relationship with Gooners helps massively, but it is that invisible tie between the boss and player that will hold firm when other clubs and contract negotiations come calling. 

Mesut Ozil’s deal runs until the summer of 2018. It is the general concensus that the German is fishing for more money. At 28, the contract he manages to obtain next will be his biggest and most important. It will see him past his prime age where he can choose his destination from any team in the world. When this next contract duration is up, he can of course go to the majority of clubs and nations,  but he will be well into his thirties and the demand will be far less than the clamour would be if Ozil’s name was dipped into the shark tank.

Make no mistake – if we fail to come to an agreement with Ozil, he will have no trouble whatsoever in finding a team that is willing to pay him his market worth. Ozil’s latest comments seem to highlight a different requirement that the German’s camp want settled before any ink is splashed on Arsenal headed paper.

Ozil said of his contract negotiations “The club knows that I am here most of all because of Arsène Wenger. 
“He is the one who signed me and he is the one whose trust I have. The club also knows that I want to be clear what the manager is going to [in the future].”  – courtesy of the Daily Express

That is pretty transparent in regards to what the stumbling block appears to be. As Arsene Wenger ticks down the last year of his contract, the club and apparently Mesut Ozil are waiting on tenterhooks to see whether Wenger will sign yet another extension or he will bid adieu to the club with which he is now intrinsically part of.

The next announcement is key. After a statement of this nature from Mesut, it means that the club will not announce an extension or otherwise until they are ready to also declare what Arsene’s future will be. As soon as we are all made aware of what our playmaker is going to do, we will automatically know what our manager’s future will be.

If Ozil decides to stay, then we can assume Wenger will too. If Ozil goes, then we will probably be in the market for a new manager. The two are now one and the same. The announcement has all fans – both pro and anti Wenger – waiting for any slice of news as to the immediate future of our club. A new manager will radically change the the scenery we are to see over the next few years, and it will have huge ramifications on the future of not only Ozil’s destination, but other players too.

Ozil made the life-changing decision to come to London, and he has openly declared his love for the city. You need only scroll through his Instagram feed to see that he loves the freedom this bustling city brings. His career hinges on more than his setting when not at work. He decided to switch Madrid for London because of the trust Wenger placed in him – something that was missing from the tail-end of his time at the Bernabeu.

You cannot fault the fact he places so much importance in what his boss will do. If Ozil signs a contract and then Wenger decides that he will call it a day, it leaves Ozil in a potentially sticky situation.Who knows what kind of manager will replace his current gaffer?

Ozil wants the setup he enjoys right now. That is testament to how happy he is at Arsenal. 

It all hinges on Wenger, whether we like that or not. Keep your ears pressed close to the ground – the next announcement will be positively earth-shattering. 

Shkodran Mustafi – The Thinking Man’s Defender

Originally posted on Goonersphere

Shkodran Mustafi has earned his former club a decent sum via the defender’s transfer to Arsenal, and while there are mitigating factors to the high transfer fee, it should not overshadow what a special player we have signed.

The figure is a reported £35million, and Valencia were always going to hold out for the maximum amount. The Spanish club are in dire straights in regards to their fiscal situation, and despite their wishes to hold on to the German, a large amount of numbers on a cheque was always going to be the answer they were looking for.

With Mustafi also being 24, it means he can provide a stable foundation for many years to come. 

The German international is of course a World Cup winner, which addsa certain lustre to his name, but he did so playing on the right of the defence. His versatility is another string to his bow, as he is just as comfortable in either position. 

The man with the name that cannot fit into a chant can boast of a wealth of experience, which at such a young age is a huge asset over defenders of the same age. Mustafi started in the youth systems of Germany, but an early move to Everton – where he made a single substitute appearance – and subsequent transfers to Sampdoria and Valencia have given him a baptism to all styles of football. His spell in Italy in particular, where defending is an art form, will be of particular use.

His experience, his versatility, all make a huge difference. Another tick in the box is his exemplary technique. There are a host of videos on Youtube which showcase the German’s deft touch, juggling the ball with all parts of his boots and making it look simple. Not exactly in the typical defenders skillset – aside from Laurent Koscielny of course (who can forget his skill and rabona finish from twenty odd yards in a warm up last year?).

Mustafi you see, is more of your modern-day cerebral defender. The monolithic sentry-type of defender still exist, and the best partnerships are often a mix of the two, but Mustafi isn’t a tackle merchant. 

He is strong in the air, but what is most apparent is that there isn’t a weakness in his armour. He can deal with all types of threat, from the speedster on his shoulder to the target man with the flailing elbows. Physical battles, a flat dash to a loose ball – all of these situations Mustafi can, and has, dealt with succinctly.

He is the perfect successor to the aging Mertesacker. Our very own BFG still has much to offer, but his heir apparent is in the same mould as his fellow German. Both have excellent positioning and can quell threats with a simple movement, rather than a madcap reactionary run. With Mustafi also possessing adequate pace, we have potentially a Mertesacker 2.0.

Which should be excellent news for Koscielny, who formed the other half of one of our better partnerships in recent years – but also us fans.

With Koscielny and Mustafi in the centre of our defence, we have a bedrock to build on, and even when we have committed more men forward than we should have, with those two at the back, we will be on surer footing than in previous years.

We really can now boast of a defence worthy of a title tilt. Shkodran Mustafi is worth every penny if he can show why he was in last seasons LaLiga Team of the Season as part of a struggling Valencia side.

Mesut Ozil – An Endangered Species.

The constant comparisons, documentaries and mentions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are understandable, if a little grating.

Both players have graced the world stage with their inimitable presences, and have obliterated records with each season that passes. Driven by their own standards – and a little competition from each other – they have deservedly been labelled as the finest of our generation.

It is their goals though, that have seen them placed atop pedestals so high. Each campaign has seen them both plunder 40,50 goals and it is these numbers, in our stat-fuelled game as it stands today, that has allowed them to break off from their rivals and see them placed in their own unique category.

Some players specialise in goals. Some have their specialist subject in destroying midfielders. Others are adept at stemming wave after wave of attacks. 

Then there is Mesut Ozil.

If the German were to be part of a survey, he would not fit any previous mould. He would be found in the box marked ‘other.’

In todays game, our number 11 cannot be compared to any other player. He is crudely categorised as a playmaker, but anyone who has seen him play will realise he is much more than just our own Golden Hen, forcing out assist after assist. 

He is a mercurial ninja, floating between dimensions. Seeking only the right moment to strike, his singular motivation is to ensure he allows his team the best chance to ensure damage to the opposition. 

If the ball gravitates toward him in a deep position, then even a simple ten yard pass will have gone through his own mental collander, ruling out all other options and making sure it is the most efficient choice. 

Every decision he makes, when you take a retrospective look at his performance, is normally the correct one. All of these mental gymnastics his brain performs is done in a sliver of time that most would find difficult to comprehend. Only a small pocket of players are capable of utilising this skill on the pitch, but they still lack the other weapons at Ozil’s disposal.

As a ninja, Ozil’s quick thinking and vision are his katana – his go-to weapon. His sidearm though, is his awareness. The very same awareness that the great Dennis Bergkamp possessed. It allows Ozil to know where his teammates are, and find them no matter where they are. His technical ability means that if they are 50-60 yards away, he will still be able to produce a ball so perfectly weighted, that it will find its intended target even if they are on the run, allowing them to take possession easily.

Nothing is left to chance. What really sets our German apart though, is the effortless nature in which he performs such tasks. His roll of the body to outwit N’Golo Kante in our 3-0 demolition of Chelsea to start the move for the 3rd goal – which he duly scored – looked so easy and smooth that it looked like anyone could have done it.

He has the Karate Kid factor. We all saw the films, with Danny LaRusso being taught to paint fences and wax cars in a roundabout method of capturing the movement required for basic karate moves, but at the end of each film – didn’t we all try the crane kick? Didn’t we all think we could be karate champion? 

When we watch Ozil, it is the same. Everything he does looks so simple, but trying to recreate such things as a lowly human is nigh-on impossible. Ozil hails from a different plain, one that isn’t exactly overpopulated.

David Silva, Kevin DeBruyne, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Christian Eriksen and Cesc Fabregas are regularly stood next to Ozil and their numbers are studied and scrutinised in an effort to find a parallel with our quietly spoken genius. 

They may have the vision of Ozil. Some may even have his work rate. A few may yet possess his touch. None of them though, have his nonchalant manner in performing the ridiculously difficult. None have the ability to begin moves from any position, even when playing below par. 

Ozil is an instigator. His mind is a constant whirring chess simulation, twisting the board to all angles in an attempt to see a chink in the enemies armour. To find the smallest gap to slide his blade into, thus causing damage on a massive scale.

That is why Mesut Ozil is unique. Held up against the players who are always compared to him, he stands above them, as he cannot be merely labelled.

He is a diamond of many facets, each one allowing the other to shine brighter. 

He is unique, and we should enjoy every minute he wears our crest. 

Mesut Ozil is an endangered species, but hopefully his presence in training will allow others to glean enough to ensure and maintain a continuation of his kind.