The match against Bayern showed once again that Özil isn’t Arsenal’s biggest problem, but that he could be part of their solution.
Arsene Wenger took him off the pitch after 45 minutes and nobody could argue with that decision. Until then Arsenal didn’t find any connection to the match, but afterwards they delivered a brave fight in the second half.
In the 10 minutes after Podolski’s equalizer they were even slightly superior but at the end they were eliminated anyway.
Interestingly it was exactly a player with Özil’s skills they would have needed in the second half when Bayern were loosing the control of the game. Instead of taking advantage of that, Arsenal played their attacks very uninspired with long balls up front and then high balls into Bayern’s penalty area which normally wasn’t a problem for the German defense.
At least in this match there was little left of Wenger’s one touch football that Arsenal once was famous for with players like Bergkamp, Pires or Henry.
Özil would be a player who has the skills to tie in with these past times but he definitely can’t do it alone. In the first part of the season he had at least a player like Aaron Ramsey with whom he harmonied in a very promising way, but then the Welsh midfielder got injured. Cazorla could theoretically be a player like that but is similarly to Özil someone who doesn’t show his talent regularly enough.
Despite a decent season with some convincing victories, Arsenal is still a step away from the best teams in Europe. Nevertheless, they are in better shape than last season, so if Arsene Wenger purchases some real enhancements for the next season, then the team should have a good chance of stepping up a level.
Apart from one or two more technical offensive players, Arsenal probably would not make a big mistake if they started looking for some alternatives for Giroud and Arteta. The French striker is definitely a good player but is not quite the striker you would need to score a goal without having a lot of opportunities.
When you compare him to other strikers in the Champions League like Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Mandzukic, Messi, Ibrahimovic or Lewandowski, then it becomes clear that Arsenal hasn’t got the fearful striker any more as they used to have when Henry was still playing.
Another key position in modern football is the one of the defensive midfielder. Here you normally need athletic players who can recover the ball fastly and then initiate immediately a counter attack. Players like Yaya Toure at Manchester City or Ramires at Chelsea. Arsenal also had a player like that and maybe they can get him back for next season.
Alex Song had been a very effective defensive midfielder during his time at Arsenal which is why Barcelona signed him. He or somebody like him could be a strong asset to the Gunner’s ambitions for next year.
Let’s see if Wenger will be willing to spend some money in the summer to avoid watching the Champions League quarter finals always on television. His current team showed some real fighting spirit yesterday, but that’s just not enough to keep up with the big teams in Europe.