10 September 2013

Fàbregas: Özil will "kill" Prem defenses

Slow, slow day ahead of today's round of World Cup qualifiers. Here in the U.S. we have a visit from Mexico, fresh off their stunning home-loss to Honduras, and we'll be without Michael Bradley (injury) and Jozy Altidore (suspension), so it could be a barn-burner—
Mexico needs to win to stay alive, we're first in the group but are missing key players, and the rivalry itself is intense enough when there's little to nothing at stake. However, that's little more than window-dressing at the moment. All I'm really hoping is that our lads come through without any injuries. There are quite a few of them who will play (click  here to see the full list at Arsenal.com), and as long as everyone emerges hale and hearty, I'm happy. This break in the action has given us plenty of time to ponder our fortunes, which have taken a dramatic turn for the better, of course, and the signing of Özil. A lot has already been said about it, and Cesc Fàbregas put in his two cents the other day:
He is going to enjoy the Premier League an awful lot. It is a league with more space [than La Liga] and Özil is a player that, given time and space, he will kill you. As we have already seen from his time at Real Madrid, his final ball is brilliant.
Having played against Özil over the last two seasons and for Arsenal for the preceding eight, of course, Fàbregas is well-qualified to attest to Özil's abilities and how they'll translate to playing in the Prem. The prospect of him slicing defenses open, eviscerating them with that killer final ball, should make opposing defenses tremble. We've already gone for ten goals in five matches without his service, and, after a bedding-in period, we should start to see some glorious football. Just as exciting as the final product will be the method behind it; Özil may have been on of Florentino Perez's famous (or infamous) "galácticos", but he plays Arsenal's style of football. He highlights the difference between merely purchasing players and managing them and because his skills mesh so well with Arsenal's style, it's no stretch of the imagination to suggest that a manager like Arsène might actually unlock a player whose creativity might have been constricted somewhat while playing under Mourinho. More directly, playing for Arsène means that Özil will be playing in a system tailored to his skills and mindset, not to mention his stated desire for "transparency, trust, and respect"—qualities that Mourinho might have to look up in a dictionary.

As good as Özil's passing might be, he's not passing to Ronaldo anymore. How well will Giroud fare? For a quick frame of reference, my nine-year old son's only goal this season has come because a cross bounced off him and in. If that's all Giroud manages, this still might be good for a dozen goals in and of itself. A more likely scenario sees Giroud and Özil forging a more-lethal partnership as Giroud learns to anticipate Özil's through-balls and crosses—and it's not only Giroud who stands to benefit; surely, Walcott, Cazorla, and Podolski will see delicious passses to latch onto and put on frame. While the finishing will still be up to them, of course, the delivery from Özil will faciliate that finishing a great deal

For a quick comparison of how Özil compares to other passers in the Prem, look to whoscored's graphic on Frank Lampard, which identifies Leighton Baines as the player with the most key passes since 2009 with 344. In that time (again, according to whoscored.com), he's therefore averaged 2.35 key passes per game. By comparison, Özil has averaged 3.025 key passes per game, a rather-large contrast, made all the more stark when we see that Özil's total would be 417 key passes since 2009—67 more than Baines and 128 more than Silva's second-place total of 289. Özil will still have to adjust to some of the more rough-and-tumble aspects of Prem League play, but if he can replicate his success at Arsenal—and all of the signs suggest he will—Fàbregas's assessment may actually underestimate Özil's impact on opposition defenses.

Sunderland, whom Arsenal faces this coming Saturday, have already conceded seven goals in four matches, including, most recently, three against newly-promoted Crystal Palace. There could be a similar orgy of goals for the Gunners should Özil feature on Saturday, and this would only be the beginning.

12 comments:

  1. This ozil must be a magician. arsenal must work as a team Strikers must take their chances. Opponents now know the threat arsenal posses.

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  2. Hopefully the physicality of the prem isn't too hard on him. I think he's a great player

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    1. I agree--he's done well against Prem teams during Champions League matches, so I hope that this means he can continue to do the same!

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  3. One of Giroud's understated abilities is his movement. For one so big, he knows how to get around the last defender and anticipate a good pass, it remains to see how well he'd be able to convert the chances. Although, I still think Walcott might be the biggest beneficiary of O's benevolence, again, it remains to see.
    Good post again Jon, and that's a big word there; 'eviscerating'. haha

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    1. Great point--I think almost all of Giroud's goals in 2012-13 came as he timed his run into the box to meet the pass, whether it came from Podolski, Cazorla, or any other midfielder. As he and Ozil get to know each other, and as Ozil gets to know Giroud's preferences, the two of them could be off and running!

      "Eviscerating" is a great word. I am, after all, an English teacher...

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  4. "transparency, trust, and respect"—qualities that Mourinho "
    Don't rate Mourinho? By all accounts he's generally pretty close to all his players and they love and trust and respect him. Zlatan said he would kill someone for Mou and guys like Essien , Drogba, Materazzi ,Sneijder , Khedira ..etc admitted they cried when he left their clubs. (I know that at least 3 of those guys say they still call him regularly)
    Ozil was definitely the most key player at Madrid IMO. I think Ozil's skillset makes him such a Mourinho attacker , with his awareness of space, ability to create and exploit space and his ability to create overloads. Real Madrid was really built around him and his skillset. His movement was basically at the centre of every Real Madrid attacking move.

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    1. You have a point, and I should be careful about how I run at the mouth about other managers. I don't know them first-hand, of course. Of the "big" managers (Ferguson, Mourinho, Guardiola...), Mou does actually earn more credit than the others. I was quoting Ozil on the "transparency, trust, and respect" comment, which is mostly a compliment to Wenger but might also be a slight against Mourinho.

      Full disclosure? Casillas is one of my favorite players and I do resent how Mourinho has treated him.

      At any rate, it's thrilling to think of how Ozil might flourish under Wenger's tutelage...

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    2. Whatever, the so-called Special one plays favorites. Do everything and anything he says, and sure, he'll treat you like you're special. Question him and you're garbage. I don't really see Zlatan as a go-to guy when it comes to loyalty. He's loyal to one thing: himself. Mourinho gets results, sure, but he's such a colossal prick about it all that I could care less. I hope Ozil gets a hat-trick against Chelsea each time we face them.

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    3. @Jon
      I think that was probably a reference to Perez not Mou. Ozil was saying until a week before his transfer that he planned to stay at Madrid , so clearly Perez was trying to shop Ozil around behind his back.

      As to Casillas he was a great goalkeeper (in 2011-2012 Mou called him the greatest in the world), but last season his form was pretty poor. He conceded a lot of sloppy goals and didn't organise the defense on setpieces properly. Its difficult to bench the captain , but Mou has always been one to play players based on form and merit and not reputation. This clearly rubbed some Madrid guys (Ramos , casillas , Pepe) the wrong way.

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    4. @Anonymous
      Mou does want player who will follow his instructions and work hard(I think most managers want this though). He does have good relationships with guys like Zlatan and Eto'o , who are difficult players to get along with. The only players he didn't like were guys like Quaresma/Crespo who didn't apply themselves in training or guys who wanted playing time when their form didn't warrant it.

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  5. True. Whatever went on between Mourinho and Ozil will stay between them. For whatever reason, they just didn't seem to quite click. at any rate, that's in the past, and we get to see Ozil at Arsenal. It's exciting to think of what he might do under Wenger's style. As good as he was at RM, it's possible that he could grow into something even better, and that's fine by me!

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  6. ozil is a player who does not possess the greed to shine in the spotlight. he just wants some respect for his hard work which he did not get from mou.

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