Assessing Arsenal's deals

Posted by John Cross



All that waiting, pain, torture and it comes down to the last half an hour. But in one swoop, Arsene Wenger's stunning £42 million deadline deal for Mesut Ozil transformed Arsenal's transfer window.

Weeks of frustration forgotten as Arsenal blew away their rivals with confirmation that, at 10:30 p.m. and with the clock ticking, they had signed a genuine world-class player.

It is a statement of intent, proof of ambition and is such a typical Wenger signing. The fans started the window dreaming of huge deals, a prolific striker and midfield general.

- Limbert: The Ozil deal

They ended up with a Fancy Dan midfielder and no striker. Proof if ever you needed it that it's all about the pretty patterns for Wenger as he likes his players to pass rather than shoot.

But this is one hell of a Fancy Dan. His German Under-21 boss Horst Hrubesch dubbed him the German Lionel Messi. Jose Mourinho, while in charge of Real Madrid, hailed him as the best No. 10 in the world.

Ozil, 24, turned down a more lucrative offer to join Paris Saint Germain because Wenger made him believe in Arsenal's football philosophy, what they are trying to build and, of course, the growing German family with Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski helped.

If ever there was a match made in heaven then it's this one. Wenger has admired Ozil for years and tried to sign him before he went to Real Madrid. He is almost his prototype player. Small, technical, brilliant.

As I see it, Ozil will play in the No. 10 role in Arsenal's 4-2-3-1 system. Santi Cazorla will play wide left, a position he filled before joining Arsenal. Then the other two midfielders will come from Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky.

Arsenal have a midfield dream team. But Arsenal fans have every right to question why a striker was not signed. I still think they are light in numbers. But Ozil is possibly their most exciting signing since Dennis Bergkamp. Other players were brilliant. But when they actually joined few enjoyed superstar status.

It's a signing to blow people away.

Arsenal also went for Demba Ba but felt that Chelsea strung them along, kept them waiting, didn't want to loan to a rival but left it long enough so that it was too late for Wenger to go for anyone else. Arsenal are fuming. Jose Mourinho is probably smiling.

Now they are reliant on Olivier Giroud. Forget Nicklas Bendtner. He's so far out of the picture. Giroud has been superb, scoring four goals in five games, but he needs backup. Their only reserve is Yaya Sanogo, who joined on a free transfer from Auxerre. Arsenal needed more.

The other deadline deal was a season-long loan for Emiliano Viviano, an Italy international from Palermo and a good backup for Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski.

It has been a long and painful window. Wenger has had big money but refrained from spending it until the last minute, much to the frustration of Arsenal's fans.

They should have signed a striker. Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and then Ba were all targets but none were signed.

Midfield was probably the one area where they looked strong. You can see why Wenger makes the fans pull their hair out at times. He was looking for perfection -- and got it.

There is genuine excitement about Ozil. A brilliant signing. But will it be enough? I don't think you can win the title without more depth. But Ozil will delight the Arsenal fans.

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