It is easy to get carried away with Arsenal’s pre-season form, especially when your team slots six goals with no response. Naysayers will be quick to remind us about Yaya Sanogo. The lanky forward burst into the scene with a wonderful exhibition of skill and finishing at the Emirates Cup last pre-season. But when the season started, he faded away and was recently shipped to Ajax on loan. The point is not to get the expectations too pumped up but to look at the preparations with pragmatism.
Arsene Wenger exhibited this quality in a display of contentment and serenity as he watched his side run riot. The goal-scoring form of his team must have satisfied him but his experience will tell him not to look for anything beyond. Apart from the goal-scoring he would also have been impressed by what he saw of Mesut Ozil.
The German international is some sort of an enigma, whatever the supporters may say. He arrived at the club amid much fanfare from Real Madrid at a club record fee – signaling the intent of Wenger to dip into the market for players with correct value. Ozil replied to the enthusiasm of the fans with some incredible initial performances that made everyone sit up and take notice.
But after the initial euphoria subsided, the German midfielder struggled to replicate his performances. Injuries didn’t help him either and suddenly he was caught in the midst of deep scrutiny. Also, he lost his central attacking role to Alexis Sanchez who brought much needed goals and energy to the team.
Wenger on Ozil: He missed the whole first part of the season last year and he came back to his best level in the second part of the season. Hopefully he can deliver a whole season now.
He had a difficult start to the season but slowly, in the second part of the season, he won over our fans. Feeling the reaction now in the crowd, I feel that he has their support.
This season would prove to be an important one for Ozil. Wenger took the first step of putting him in comfort zone by saying that he will give Ozil his preferred position ahead of Sanchez. This may have had a positive impact on Ozil because he looked charged and focused in the match against Lyon.
Not just scoring a goal, Ozil was also showcasing a more driven and forward-minded mindset that is not often seen last season. The exchange of passes with Ramsey and the display of perfect synergy should bode well for the upcoming season.
Wenger should have been impressed with what he saw though he will not read too much into the friendly match performance. He would be hard pressed to finalize his preferred starting XI. But, that is a welcome headache isn’t it?