Arsene Wenger believes that his acquisition of Mesut Ozil reflects an increased preference in English football for technical players who sit in a deeper attacking position as opposed to a focus on out-and-out strikers.
In the last few years the Premier League has become a veritable hub of outstanding no.10s with Chelsea, Sp*rs, Liverpool and Manchester City (to name but a few) adding such creativity to their ranks.
“You need more players who can create that special opening and I believe that Europe uses fewer strikers than before,” Wenger is quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
“If you look at the number of strikers who have been sold during the summer, most of them are South American.
“If you compare England today with 20 or 30 years ago I would say the main difference for me is that you have no strikers any more in a country that produced so many. Why? Because we have developed more the technical game and the guy who delivers this kind of ball is even more important.
“Before you got the cross in and you had a guy who jumped above everybody to head the ball in. Today you have to find him through little pockets and that is why this player [the No 10] becomes even more important because the creative aspect needed is higher.”
Of course, for the last couple of years it has been Jack Wilshere who has been hailed nationwide as the man to bring a creative spark to the England national team.
Highlighting that his young charge is still feeling his way back to top form after his injury struggles the boss also underlined that the Academy graduate (due to competition) has steeled himself for the challenge of playing on the left even if it’s not his best position.
“Jack is always ready to sacrifice himself for the team and that is absolutely fantastic,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“It [the left flank] is not his best position, we all know that. But he has a lot of freedom to move inside and he plays a little bit in the Cazorla role. He does that well.
“I think he will benefit from that transitional period there and physically he will become much stronger. He needs that.
“Overall, he is very disciplined as well. He can do the physical job on the flanks. It’s the hardest job today in the modern game and he does that very well. I’m very pleased with his performances.”
While Jack’s shift to the left is happening later in his development than in other cases, the moving of central players to the flank is a tried and tested Wenger policy. The likes of Abou Diaby, Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey have all endured similar stints (to varying degrees of success) before taking their chance in the middle.