Blog by: North London is Red
Arsène Wenger was right when he said that Arsenal supporters were maybe little bit brainwashed by the media. Usually you see a wide variety of reactions to whatever news comes out of the Emirates but the Özil-reactions from the Arsenal faithful were surprisingly limited.
The main reactions can be grouped into “Amazing” or “Incredible signing but we don’t need him”.
What a load of tosh. Of course we need a player like Özil. Putting talent on the pitch aside for the moment, he is still exactly what we needed because he was a big money signing with a huge reputation, bought from one of the biggest clubs in the world where he was a regular starter.
Some may argue that his chances this season may have been hindered by the signing of Bale but that’s not moot because we have him now and who we bought was a starter at Real Madrid.
People have been complaining for years that we don’t pay big money or don’t sign established players or don’t sign first team players from rival or other big clubs. In Özil, we have just done all three of those things. The renewed positivity, in general, surrounding Arsenal at the moment is worth every penny of the reported £42.5m.
The feel-good factor, the positivity, the belief, the shock, the awe and the message it all sends to our rivals coupled with the insane talent of Mesut is exactly what Arsenal needed and exactly what we got. There is a reason people compare this to the signing of Bergkamp. And you can bet he’ll have a similar impact.
So why do some people believe that we didn’t need a creative midfielder? Why do people buy into what the media and “experts” like Kenny Dalglish are saying?
It’s as Wenger said, they’ve been brainwashed. They are told on a weekly basis by “experts” on Sky Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, Match of the Day and Setanta that Arsenal are defensively weak and our striker(s) aren’t good enough.
This is incorrect.
Mate, I watch Arsenal every week; I’m not brainwashed. We don’t need an attacking midfielder, we need a defender and a world-class stiker. I know what I see with my own eyes.
So this chap must have seen the second best defence in the league and the third best attack? No? He can’t have been watching very closely then.
Arsenal do need an attacking midfielder and more than they need a “better centre-half” or a “world-class striker”. If you were to name the top five strikers in the world and looked closely at how they scored their goals, you’d be surprised to find that not many of their goals have come completely out of nothing. Most world-class strikers are in fact world-class finishers and that means they need someone to set them up.
Arsenal really spread the load last season, which is a great thing because it means we are less affected by injuries, not unaffected, just less. Remember when we used to take a sharp breath and peek between our fingers whenever RvP went down injured? If he got injured who was going to score our goals? Last season we had four players who scored 10+ in the league, if one gets injured it’s not catastrophic.
Podolski is currently injured, expected to miss at least 10 matches, but I am yet to see a huge panic about replacing his goals. Lukas made 33 league appearances last season scoring 11 times, or once every 3 games. In the same fixtures last year as the ones he is likely to miss over the next few months, we won 3 of those games by one goal so those goals could come in handy no? What about the Champions League? He may miss 4 or more of our group matches and he was our top European scorer last season.
It’s a loss but it’s not a massive loss as we have players all over the pitch who weigh in with goals. The point I am trying to make is that if we take away one scorer we still have 3 or 4 more. What Arsenal are lacking is chances and that is what Özil brings.
Last season 4 of the top 5 chance creators in Europe played in the Premier League, none of them played for Arsenal. Check out this fantastic article on EPLIndex about chance creation.
Leighton Baines at Everton made 97, David Silva made 89 and Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard made 167 between them. We only scored one goal more than Liverpool last season and that was with just Santi Cazorla making the top 10 chance makers list at 9th place.
You need to have players to put away the chances but first you need players to make them. Liverpool didn’t have the luxury of what we had last season in terms of goalscorers, instead having one player score the bulk of their goals.
Arsenal were fifth on the Premier League list of chances created* last season behind Liverpool, Tottenham, Man City and Everton. United didn’t make the top 5 for chances created but still finished 1st because they boasted the best conversion rate. Chelsea had the second best attack and conversion rate and the third best defence.
Özil, on average, creates a chance every 22 minutes on the pitch and a clear-cut chance every 84 minutes, or 40 clear-cut chances per season or with Chelsea’s conversion rate that is an extra 7 goals. Would that have won them the league? Maybe, maybe not but the more you score the better chance you have of winning games.
As you can see from the table above, most teams finish roughly where their combined defensive record, chances created record and conversion rate average out. Some teams under perform like Sunderland (who could clearly benefit from a little more creativity in the middle of the park) and some teams overachieve like West Ham and Everton (who could do with some more clinical finishing).
United won a title with only the 5th best defence because their attack was significantly better than everyone else’s. Arsenal have a good defence, an ever improving midfield and players all over the pitch who can score goals and share the load.
Statistically speaking, Mesut’s chances should lead to at least 6 goals extra goals for Arsenal but considering Cazorla got 11 assists despite creating a clear-cut chance every 221 minutes compared to Özil’s 84 minutes you have to fancy the young German to get at least his Real Madrid average of 15 or last years 13.
13 extra goals to Arsenal, last season would have seen us 1 behind United with a superior defensive record. Would that have won us the title? Maybe, maybe not, but it would have put us a hell of a lot closer.
Arsenal have a lot going for them this season. Three of our main attackers are now used to the league, the title holders have an inferior midfield and an ageing main striker, three of the top four from last season have new managers, our rivals for top four last season have lost their talisman and have 7 new players to bed into the squad.
With all of that taken into consideration, the fact we had the 2nd best defence and 3rd most prolific attack, more goal scoring chances is exactly what Arsenal need. You put a chance creator like Özil into the Arsenal midfield, Arsenal will score 85-90 goals.
A world-class striker at Arsenal would be fantastic and I hope we get one in January but in order for them to do the very best they can do we need to provide them with an abundance of chances to tuck away.
Arsenal do need another defender for numbers and they do need another striker for competition but do they need them more than Özil? I don’t believe they do.
You either buy a player to build around or you buy a player that gets the best out of what you have already. Arsenal did both and that is why we need Özil.