Last night I had a little smile to myself. I was thinking about the outrage when Arsène waved away the overtures of a Fabregassian return to the club and the player himself admitted that Arsène had told him that he wouldn’t take up the option on the Spaniard, because we had Mesut Özil, with whom we would be channeling our play through from now on, meaning his role would not be that which it once was. I must admit, like the rich only child who accumulates toys and yet never seems to be satisfied, I too coveted Fabregas as well as Özil. You can never have enough good players, you see.
But Arsène is about balance, about harmony and after his behaviour last time, perhaps although he wouldn’t say it to Fabregas, he still might have been mindful of his disruptive influence, so passed up the opportunity.
I always wondered why Barcelona so willingly ditched Fabregas, but perhaps it was because he didn’t do enough over a period of a season, even last season there were some who questioned that.
But this isn’t a piece about Fabregas, that was simply to set the tone, which is to wax lyrical over Mesut Özil. A player who some pondered whether we should be sending back to the safety of the Spanish ‘never tackle or press’ league, who has now blossomed in to an assist-making, game dominating, superstar for us, whilst the Spaniard we once adored flounders towards the foot of the Premier League table. It’s delicious. It also turns out that once in a while, Arsène is bang on the money, can see something that others can’t and makes absolutely the right decision. He’s being vindicated with his faith in Özil over Fabregas right now and we’re all the beneficiaries.
But this isn’t about Arsène and his right choices, this is about the man they call Mesut, who has been imperious this season.
I never cared how much we paid for him, but for some reason I think the price tag made me even more desparate for him to succeed. The thought that we’d scrimped and saved our pennies whilst the stadium debt was there, only to be blown on a player or two that didn’t work, filled me with an ever-so-slight apprehension. I didn’t want us to blow the funds on a player and then retreat back to the safety of trying to pick cheap unknowns, or just cheap alternatives, in order to compete. So Özil became my own personal favourite player I wanted to succeed because I wanted to see the policy of buying the best players for top dollar succeed.
How materialistic and away from the ‘purer’ kinds of success is that? Perhaps I’ve been lured by seeing the success of what the oil whores have achieved and have been taken in by the media hype that you have to spend billions to win the Premier League these days. Seeing a team win the league entirely of home-grown, or at least unknowns plucked from obscurity, is by far a more satisfying sight. But my belief that could happen has been warned by the oil whores and the result is that big names equal success in my mind. That’s why Özil had to succeed.
And now he is.
24 assists to his name since signing for Arsenal. He’s had ten this season alone. He’s on fire and at this rate he’ll hit Henry’s 20 assists record from 2002/3 quite easily I’d imagine. But that’s not all. There’s a great infographic the club has produced to show his achievements in such a short period of time and it is probably the reason for my decision to write a fanboy blog about him today, because it struck me that by the end of the season, he’ll most likely be within the top six or seven all-time leading Premier League assist-makers for Arsenal. Bergkamp had 94 in his time at the club and he did it in just under nine years. He’s revered as a god to us and rightly so. Mesut may not reach that tally, but at 27 he could. At the very least, if he continues the form of the first two and a half years at the club, we could be looking at a player who ranks as one of the best. Fabregas got 70 assists in eight years at Arsenal. Henry got 74 in eight. If Mesut was at the club for eight years, he’d be 33 and will probably be touching Bergkamp’s record. Just take that in for a second people. We could be watching the beginnings of a hero being formed at Arsenal. A legend. There is still much consistency that he needs to show over that period of time, but in just over two years he’s managed 24 assists. Times that by four and you have a guy who is an assist making machine. A kingmaker.
There’s still much work to be done and he will have to prove himself over many years, but I hope we’re witnessing the start of something special.
I think I’ll finish off this piece talking about Mesut, by choosing a few lines from Arthur O’Shaunessy’s Ode (although I know it as some of the lines from Willy Wonka, lest I make you think I am a bit more well-read than I actually am). I don’t know why, but it just made me think of Özil.
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties,
we build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story,
we fashion an empire’s glory.
One man, with a dream, at pleasure
shall go forth and conquer a crown.