Ultimately, we were all cruelly denied a chance to see Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain face the Gunners with their record signing Mesut Ozil. Arsenal fans, of course, will be thankful of the omission, no doubt – the Argentine striker who almost made it to the Emirates this summer, has so far scored five goals in eight appearances this season.
The Serie A runners up signed the 25-year-old, swiping him from under Arsenal’s nose at the last minute, for a fee of £34.5 million on a five-year contract. New manager Rafael Benitez’ side had been unbeaten in all competitions until they rocked up at Emirates to face an Arsenal side that demolished them in the first quarter of an hour and then completely controlled the rest of the game.
Mesut Ozil was outstanding on the night – the 24-year-old German maestro completed 91 per cent of his passes over the whole, game 88.5 per cent of his passes in the final third and, in the first half when Arsenal won and Napoli conceded control of the game, Ozil completed 95.5 per cent of his passes and 90 per cent of his passes in the final third. He scored the opener and provided the assists for the second.
Higuain watched the game from stands but, based on that performance, I think even he would admit Ozil was a better signing than he would have been. He has scored more goals than Ozil but, then again, he is a striker and that’s pretty much his job description.
Hopefully, we will at some stage get to see the pair on the pitch together – potentially when Arsenal travel to Naples for their final group game on December 11th – but pound for pound, you have to say Mesut Ozil is not only the better signing but probably the best signing of the summer.
I had discussed at length throughout the summer my firm belief that Higuain would be a huge player for Arsenal – the type of striker who could genuinely replace the quality of Robin van Persie – and, in fairness, on paper Arsenal didn’t really need another attacking midfielder. But, given the choice of the two former Real Madrid stars, I think Arsenal have gotten the best of the bunch and Ozil’s former colleagues in the Spanish capital would likely agree.
There was very little cause for complaint when Higuain was sold but the fallout from Ozil’s departure was massive – the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos publicly declaring their dismay and displeasure at having the best number 10 in the world sold-off to fund the purchase of Gareth Bale. Conversely, there was barely a whisper of discontent when Higuain left the Bernabeu. In this case, the silence speaks bounds.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald