In a recent interview with Arsenal.com, the snow-white-headed Mesut Ozil looked calm and content. He got married during the summer and it looks like he and Emery have found some common ground on playing style and the German’s role in the mighty red and white team. He is of course an introvert and not a champion of verbosity, but I could tell he was looking forward to the coming season; and that was before the announcement of the very exciting NP19 signing!
In an earlier post I wrote that the combo of Xhaka/Willock looked strong, especially against the top teams during our friendlies’ season. It looks like Willock is ready to be strong competition for both Torreira and Xhaka and Emery also has Ceballos (and Guendouzi, although I remain less convinced about him) to play in the (D)M-pivot. It will be good to see how these midfield players will fit into Emery’s thinking – and I still believe it will be this midfield conundrum that will make or break the Basque’s fate at the club.
But what I also noticed was the encouraging development of Mesut Ozil being given a free role in which he moves from box to box to make things happen. Against Bayern he came deep regularly to get the ball and he also made it into the German box time and again. A free, creative role is what gets the best of our German maestro, and now he has not only Auba and Laca to play with but also Pepe. Pepe, Auba and Laca: Ozil’s favourite PALs!
It was clear to most of us that what we need is a strong option on the wings. Mkhi had a few decent games but is not really a winger; Auba is okay if there is plenty of space but he is also not a winger; and Iwobi was most effective on the wing but he still needs to break through (with more goals and assists). So the arrival of Pepe is music to MO10’s ears. Remember when he played at Real Madrid and was able to feed the likes of Higuaín, Ronaldo and Benzema? Well things could not be much better with his new PALs now, could they?!
Having said all of this, I cannot see Emery playing all of PAL in each and every game. We may need a bit more balance and Mesut may need some creative support in certain games. A line up of ‘happy PIL’ – Pepe, Iwobi and Laca – may well give us better balance in the team going forward. NP19 will no doubt help raise Iwobi’s wing-play and there is also no doubt that the Nigerian has the ability to find the killer passes from the centre of midfield. I predict a very good Iwobi this season.
All in all, the attacking options are simply mouth-watering (and I haven’t even mentioned the likes of Eddie, Nelson and Martinelli… and ESR of course). Now let’s hope that the defence gets strengthened too and then we can really look forward to kick-off day next weekend. COYRRGs!