Mesut Ozil has given Arsenal a huge boost by saying he wants to stay at The Emirates and help fire the club to glory in 2017/18. It is a great result for Arsene Wenger, who is desperate to keep hold of his star players now that Arsenal have the financial firepower to compete with the biggest teams in the Premiership.
Make no mistake, Ozil is a real star and retaining his services will prove a real coup for the Gunners. Granted, he is not exactly in high demand among Europe’s elite this summer after flattering to deceive for large chunks of the previous campaign. But Ozil is an exceptionally graceful player that would get into most teams in the world and we are lucky to have him.
You don’t win German Player of the Year for several consecutive seasons without being a bit special, as Germany are the World Cup holders and favourites to win it again.
The signing of Alexandre Lacazette means Arsenal now have an abundance of pace in attack. There was a spell a few years ago when we suffered from a distinct lack of pace and could not stretch teams, with Theo Walcott was injured and the Cazorla-Giroud-Podolski axis looking easy on the eye but not really causing opposition defences too much consternation.
Now the array of rapid forwards is impressive; Lacazette, Walcott, Danny Welbeck and probably Alexis Sanchez too, as Wenger seems intent on forcing the Chilean to stay another year. Throw in Hector Bellerin or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bombing down the wing and that is an exceptionally quick and dangerous team.
But with that much pace you need somebody that can pick a pass, unlock defences and threat beautifully weighted through balls. Ozil is that man. Nobody in the Arsenal squad has an eye for a pass like Ozil. Not Sanchez, not Giroud, not Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey or even the injured Santi Cazorla.
Ozil is peerless as a creative force. Arguably not even Dennis Bergkamp or Robert Pires were on his level when it comes to laying chances on a plate for teammates.
In his first season at The Emirates, Ozil went from playing behind Cristiano Ronaldo to playing behind Giroud, and often looked frustrated at his teammate’s inability to latch onto his clever balls. But with Lacazette, Bellerin, Walcott, Welbeck and co bombing forward, he will have his pick of runners, and like an NFL quarterback he can pick them out.
It is no good having quick forwards that play on the shoulder of defenders unless you have someone that can play them in, so Ozil would have been a big loss had he forced through a move this summer.
If the Gunners keep hold of Ozil and Sanchez, and add Thomas Lemar to the Lacazette signing, they will be a force to be reckoned with going forwards next season.
They looked a lot stronger defensively at the tail end of the last campaign when Wenger switched to three at the back, and he has indicated his desire to persist with that formation next season. Arsenal then could well be a dark horse for that elusive title.
The latest odds show that Arsenal are huge outsiders to win it. Make sure you check out a review of the odds at bookmaker sportsbook, you will find competitive odds and strong bonuses, but you will generally find Arsenal priced at somewhere between 10/1 and 14/1 to win the title next season.
That is an attractive proposition as, unlike their rivals, they are not distracted by the Champions League and Wenger is unlikely to take the Europa League too seriously, so he can concentrate solely on the league.
Wenger knows he is running out of time to seal his legacy and he is getting serious, splashing the cash on established stars at the peak of their powers and playing hardball with wantaway players, even if he does risk losing them for free next summer.
Finally, Wenger is not planning for the future but concentrating 100% on the present instead, and that makes Arsenal an attractive bet next season. At 14/1 you can go each-way and still make a big profit if they finish in the top three.