The footballing world is momentarily distracted and then returns to what it was doing. Transfer window closed, star talk digested with bright shiny photo shoot completed, international football takes centre stage. Not generally through wonderment and awe at the matches, mainly in the hope that all will return to the club safe and sound, particularly the shiny new Mesut Özil toy that has just been purchased from the Spanish shop down the road.
Whilst the focus has been on the German, others have slipped quietly under the radar since Sunday’s victory over Tottenham. Jack Wilshere proved to be a joker when he told reporters that “Tom Cleverley and Jack Rodwell, [are] all gifted players who give England hope for the future“; Jack, you little scamp, you. Next he will be telling us that the inclusion of Andy Carroll in future squads is the prelude to an expansive passing game being implemented at international level.
Over the Severn Bridge, tolls have been paid and Chris Coleman is showing all his usual ineptitude when it comes to Aaron Ramsey. Having stripped the player of the captaincy and rubbed salt into wounds by trying to persuade Ryan Shawcross to become Welsh, he has told reporters that he cannot see Ramsey losing his place to world-renowned defensive midfielder, Mesut Özil. Yes, that’s the chap, the German international who with Lionel Messi, has the highest levels of assists in Europe’s top leagues over the past three years. Coleman was doing well up to that point, rightly noting that Ramsey’s form has made him undroppable at the moment. There are plenty of others who will be more concerned by the German’s arrival.
One of those whose playing time might be reducing is Tomas Rosicky. It isn’t guaranteed though. Last season, Santi Cazorla appeared in all Premier League matches such was their reliance upon him. With the arrival of Özil, opportunities exist for Arsène to rotate not just that trio but Jack Wilshere as well, to prevent having to select players whose medical and performance statistics tell him that rest is advisable. It might reduce the wear and tear injuries which have dogged players on their return from more serious setbacks; Lukas Podolski and Mikel Arteta might be the first real beneficiaries of such a policy.
To claim that one player will lose is the false certainty applied to Olivier Giroud. Plenty step forward to defend the French international but very few are criticising him to the extent claimed. The argument that we don’t need another striker flies in the face of the reality of the summer. Arsenal were looking for another striker, acknowledging that a bid for Luis Suarez was made whilst the reality of contacting Fiorentina and Madrid about Jovetic and Higuain cannot be ignored. There is nothing wrong with having a Plan B or playing with a more orthodox centre-forward pairing. A new striker joining need not signal the end of Giroud’s Arsenal career, even the player himself is reported to have said that we need more depth up front so where is the problem? It gives the manager options which is surely what is needed? The same applies to Özil. Yes, he is going to take someone’s place but is that permanent? No, injuries, suspensions, loss of form can apply across any of the three creative positions behind Giroud; Rosicky can play in all three, as can Cazorla and the German.
Arsène agrees otherwise Rosicky would not be one of a trio of players being offered extended contracts, all of them reportedly on improved terms. For the Czech, it is reward for the pivotal role he has played in the end-of-season surges in the last couple of campaigns. Unarguably, he was the spark that began with the first 5pur2 victory in the Spring of 2012. Arguably, his generations Özil, a certain universal order is being restored as he enjoys the autumn of his career having lost a sizeable chunk of his peak to injury.
Equally meritorious are the new contracts for Sagna and Mertesacker. The latter deserves it for being playing a role in the signing of his two international colleagues, third behind Arsène and Stan in both deals. His performances in holding together a defence that lost semblance and shape in the first half of last season rewarded with a goal in last season 5pur2 victory and forming a solid bond in the heart of the back four with Koscielny. Bacary Sagna could have left this summer and as much as pleasure can be derived from Özil’s arrival, retaining the French international might have been the most important deal of the summer. Playing centre back as injury’s struck showed his versatility; extending his current deal will enable Carl Jenkinson to continue learning from an experienced head as his right back career develops. And having scored the priceless first goal in the 2012′s 5pur2 victory won’t have done any harm either.