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Friday, 4 October 2013

Özil at Arsenal: What a difference a month makes

Apologies (to anyone that's noticed) for the fact that I haven't written in almost a month. Malfunctioning laptop issues combined with starting my third year of uni have meant that I've only just got around to writing...

AND WHAT A MONTH TO HAVE MISSED! If I'd stated my hopes for Arsenal's upcoming results at the start of September, I don't think I could have written events any better than they have in reality turned out to be. OK, maybe I wouldn't have had us going to penalties against West Brom... but anyway, let's take a look at the best stuff from the last 30 days:

1) 10th September - Arsenal players demonstrate international quality

Wilshere and Walcott started both of England's World Cup qualifiers in which they kept two clean sheets. Mertesacker and Özil started both of Germany's games in which they kept two clean sheets and scored a goal apiece. Koscielny, Sagna and Giroud started both of France's games and kept one clean sheet. Rosicky captained the Czech Republic in both their games, scoring in the first but going off injured in the second. Ramsey captained Wales for both their games and scored once. Cazorla and Monreal both started one of Spain's matches.

It's a laborious way of putting it but the point being made is that those arguing that Arsenal don't possess world class players might soon be having to eat their words. That's eleven Arsenal players starting for their respective countries. Four scored goals. Two were captains. This is a group of footballers that can play, score and lead at the highest level of the game.

From this perspective there's only one negative: Szczesny and Fabianski were sat on the bench for Poland in both their games. That our first and second choice keepers are only second and third choice for Poland doesn't quite have the right ring to it (especially when their number one plays for Southampton).

2) 14th September -  Özil gets his first assist in his first game for Arsenal

We signed the player who has provided more goal assists than anyone else in Europe over the last five seasons. What did you think was going to happen?

3) 22nd September - Özil gets ALL THREE assists in his third game for Arsenal

The man is a genius.

4) 1st August - Özil scores one, assists one as Arsenal beat Napoli 2-0

This is the Napoli that are currently second-placed in Italy, above Juventus, AC Milan and Inter.

So in his first five games for Arsenal, the team has scored twelve, and Özil was involved in 6 of those. Arsenal have been far from a one-man team this season though: Aaron Ramsey has scored eight goals and contributed three assists in ten games so far, and has won more tackles than any other player in the league. Olivier Giroud also has six goals and two assists to his name already.

Most would still argue that Arsenal are far from a team of world class players but there are few players in England right now whose form matches that of these three. And this is before we've got last season's top scorers Cazorla, Walcott and Podolski back and firing on all cylinders again.

There are as always areas that could be improved. Despite our internationals' impressive rate of clean sheets for their countries, Tuesday's victory was the first game that Arsenal hadn't conceded in for a whole month. That could do with being addressed. And I'm refusing to get carried away until Arsenal PROVE that they can beat United, City and Chelsea this season.

But still...

Arsenal currently sit two points clear at the top of the league, five points above City and eight above United. Only City have bettered our goals scored and goal difference. In short this has been Arsenal's best start to a season in recent memory; hopefully this won't go to the players' heads and we can keep this form going. At the end of this month and the start of November the fixture list reads Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund, United. That will be a huge test for this team.

But for now let's remain hopeful. It's been a while since we've had the luxury of optimism.

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