Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has had a torrid time of it at the Bernabeu the last six to twelve months but, as Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil proved this summer, trust and faith can be restored by swapping the Spanish capital for the English capital.
As HITC’s Dan Coombs outlined on Monday, the 25-year-old French striker is having a bit of a ‘mare over at the Bernabeu presently – the latest upset would appear to be with his teammate Pepe who from the video footage appears to be gesturing to Benzema that he was not working hard enough and hadn’t even broken a sweat in Real’s 1-0 home defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid this weekend.
Prior to this weekend’s spat, I had questioned last week where Benzema’s most likely destination (either in January or next summer) might be, given the pressure and scrutiny he is under in Carlo Ancelotti’s side now, ultimately concluding either Arsenal or Chelsea would be the most obvious choices at present.
The reason I even brought it up was because, despite his clear talent and ability – he scored no less than 21 goals and made 21 assists for Real last term – Benzema is coming under fire from the fans, and now it seems, his teammates too.
“I understand why the crowd is angry, but I'm more disappointed than anyone that I didn't score,” he stated following Real’s 4-1 victory over Getafe.
It is clearly something he is aware of and unhappy about and it’ll likely be something that has a negative impact on his confidence as well as his lack of support from his teammates – it may only just barely be October but a January move looks on the cards for Karim Benzema.
Arsenal had failed in their bid to sign his former Real Madrid teammate Gonzalo Higuain this summer – the Argentine had appeared to be on his way to the Emirates until Napoli, who the Gunners face in the Champions League this week incidentally, swooped in and out-bid the North Londoners.
One would have thought Higuain’s departure would take some pressure off Benzema via the reduced competition for a place in Ancelotti’s team at centre-forward but it appears to have done the opposite – if anything it’s heaped pressure on Benzema to be the main source of firepower up front and, at the moment, that is more of a burden than a privilege.
Meanwhile, Arsenal sit pretty two points clear at the top of the Premier League table, taking 15 points from the available 18 so far this term, winning their last 9 games in a row in all competitions. So far so good for Arsene Wenger’s team, they look every bit the title-contenders they hoped to be with the arrival of Ozil, and the German maestro hasn’t even settled in properly yet, by all accounts.
What the Gunners don’t have is more than one fully fit and available centre-forward in their squad – young Yaya Sanogo is young, inexperienced and injured, Theo Walcott is not a striker and is injured, Lukas Podolski is injured, and Nicklas Bendtner played his first match for Arsenal since early 2011 last week and looks a far cry from match-fit.
Arsenal, as a club, were buoyed and boosted immensely by Ozil’s arrival and, even if Giroud stays fit until January, Arsenal cannot rely on one Frenchman to go the distance all season long across potential four competitions – it’s just unrealistic, physically.
Their deadline day loan move for Chelsea’s Demba Ba was blocked by former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho who asserted his belief that Ozil makes the Gunners title contenders – at the moment no one could argue with that. But, crucially, where Ozil makes them contenders Karim Benzema could make them title winners if they swoop in to rescue him in January.