Mesut Ozil: where will he stand in Arsenal's midfield pantheon?
Arsenal's dazzling new £42.5m signing will be judged against the club's greatest midfielders
ARSENAL new boy Mesut Ozil arrives at the Emirates from Real Madrid with a dazzling reputation. His dynamic passing and ability to score from long range give him A-list footballing status. But he still has big boots to fill. How will he match up to Arsenal's greatest modern midfielders?
Dennis Bergkamp: Sometimes a transfer is about more than just football. "Back in 1995, Bergkamp walked into the marble halls and changed everything," says The Guardian's Amy Lawrence. Few Gunners have been as iconic. His ability to play fluidly between the lines made him the benchmark for Arsene Wenger's vision of how football should be played at Arsenal. Just as Bergkamp was able to split open defences with world-class passes to the likes of Ian Wright and Freddie Ljundberg, so Ozil should be able to deliver goals to Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.
Cesc Fabregas: There has been a creative void in Arsene Wenger's midfield since the departure of Fabregas in 2011. Evening Standard football commentator Patrick Barclay believes the acquisition of Ozil is exactly what is needed for Arsenal to move forward again. "Neither the injury-hampered Jack Wilshere nor Santi Cazorla has quite filled the gap [left by Fabregas]. Ozil should." The statistics say Ozil will do better than that: the Daily Telegraph calculates that in the past three years for Real Madrid and Germany he has provided 94 assists: over the same period, Fabregas has contributed only 49 assists for Arsenal, Barcelona and Spain.
Patrick Vieira: The towering stalwart of Arsenal's defensive midfield for nine years, his style of play couldn't be more different to that of Ozil. Liam Close of World Soccer Talk thinks that despite Ozil's obvious class going forward, Arsenal could still be vulnerable on the counter-attack. "Teams look to bully Arsenal and with no real leader in the midfield since Patrick Vieira left, teams will continue to look to dominate Arsenal in midfield," he says. Maybe so, but if Ozil is able to link up smoothly with Giroud, Podolski and Walcott, the Gunners should at least score more than they concede.
Robert Pires: The Frenchman was signed as a quick-fire replacement for Marc Overmars in 2000 and quickly became one of the greatest midfielders in Premier League history. In 2003/04 he was a key member of the Arsenal side that became the first team to go an entire season unbeaten in the Premier League. Ozil will have to be patient to replicate that achievement with Arsenal: the Gunners have already lost one game this season. ·