Former Arsenal star questions whether Ozil signing should have been Gunners’ priority

Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Former Arsenal striker Tony Woodcock says he can’t wait to see Mesut Ozil make his Premier League bow – but admits he was left a little bemused at the decision to buy him.

Not, Woodcock stresses, because Ozil won’t fit into Arsene Wenger’s quick passing side. But simply because attacking midfield is one area the Gunners needn’t have strengthened prior to the close of the transfer window on September 2.

“Mesut is an excellent buy for Arsenal, he is a really good footballer,” says Woodcock ahead of Saturday’s trip to Sunderland, where the young German is expected to make his Gunners debut.

“But I was left with the feeling that if we really are to push on in the top four and, perhaps, mount some kind of meaningful title challenge, we would have strengthened elsewhere in the squad.

“It’s an interesting one but, in all honesty, and as exciting as this signing is, I’d really like to have seen Arsene Wenger buy players we really needed.”

Woodcock certainly knows all about the former Real Madrid midfielder – the Gunners’ club record signing at a cool £42.4million.

‘Woody’, a fans’ favourite during four years at Highbury between 1982 and 1986, is a well-known figure in Germany, having spent two spells in the Bundesliga at Cologne, either side of his time at Arsenal.

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He still has strong links with the country – he even has a hint of a German accent – having managed there after he retired, and he says Ozil has been a player with a growing reputation in his homeland for quite a few years.

“He is a naturally attacking left-sided player and they are always good to have in your team,” adds Woodcock, who also won a league title and European Cup at his hometown club Nottingham Forest in the late 1970s.

“He will bring assists and goals to Arsenal – and that last point is important because some of our midfielders have not perhaps weighed in with enough goals.

“I am confident Mesut will do so – he has very good technique and an eye for goal because, believe me, when he is in full flow he is an absolute joy to watch.

“He did very well at Real Madrid and quite a few good judges are surprised they let him leave – even for that amount of money.”

But Woodcock’s eyes turn to Ozil’s new team-mates – and who could suffer with the 24-year-old’s arrival.

“I do wonder how he will fit into the Arsenal line-up and who will have to make way,” adds Woodcock, who also earned nearly half a century of England caps.

“I mean, a trio of Ramsey-Ozil-Wilshere sounds very good indeed. But then what of someone like Tomas Rosicky?

“I genuinely believe that Rosicky has been unlucky with his opportunities at Arsenal and that is a shame because he is a sensational player.

“I don’t really think he has ever been given a proper chance to shine in the middle and it will be even more difficult for him now that Mesut has arrived.

“But this goes back to what I was saying; we have plenty of talent in midfield with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also to come back. That said, a player of Mesut’s calibre can only improve the team.”

Arsenal fans – for so long left frustrated at the club’s inactivity in the transfer market – certainly seem to think so.

His arrival has created a huge buzz, with some even likening it to the signing of Dennis Bergkamp back in 1995 and Arsenal’s title odds shortening.

But 57-year-old Woodcock offers a more measured look at proceedings.

“The signing of one player – however good he is – will not guarantee you the title,” he said.

“Look, two or three weeks ago the fans were moaning about the fact the club was going backwards and might not even make the top four.

“But since that poor start at home to Aston Villa we have got our act together, then we sign Mesut, and all of a sudden many of these same fans reckon we’ll win the league!

“It is great that we have got a player of this quality at Arsenal, but there was quality there already.

“As I said, we could do with more players who can score goals and he can do that – we already have some very good footballers at the club who will only get better, as will Mesut.”