Nearly two weeks after his eyebrow-raising arrival, Arsenal fans look set to finally get their first glimpse of their new record signing in action in a Gunners shirt on Saturday. The Stadium of Light is poised to be the venue for Mesut Ozil's debut following his £42.5 million arrival from Real Madrid. That fee almost trebled the club’s previous transfer record, although manager Arsene Wenger couldn’t say whether that made him Arsenal’s “biggest” signing.
“You can only judge about the money; it is mathematical that he is our biggest-ever signing,” he said, according to Arsenal.com. “It is difficult to compare quality players because we had some big signings before.
“He's at a good age. He is 25 in October and he's already a great player. There's room now between 25 and 30 for him to become a dominant player and to make a step up from that. There are many players who are very, very good to make the step to being great. You have to find the right club at the right moment [but] having the mental dedication is the major difference now.”
Since he signed on the dotted line, Ozil has been on international duty with Germany -- when he scored in a 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands to take his country to the verge of qualification for next year’s World Cup. But the attacking midfielder explained that he has been filled in with what to expect by his fellow German Gunners Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski.
"I could not think a lot about Arsenal [at first], because I had to focus on the German national team, but of course I talked to Mertesacker and Podolski about Arsenal, I asked them how the Club is and how the people are here,” he said.
"Of course I am curious. This is something very new for me. I have only heard positive things and know myself how this club is.”
There is little doubt about his fitness, but Ozil will only have had two days training with his new teammates before Saturday’s clash. Still, Wenger seems set to throw him in from the start against Sunderland.
The manager’s hand is being forced somewhat with Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky both returning from international duty with knocks. Walcott is expected to be fit after being taken off during England’s draw in Ukraine, but Rosicky -- who has started the campaign well after several seasons blighted by injuries -- may miss out after suffering a thigh injury during the Czech Republic’s defeat to Italy.
With Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already ruled out through injury, Ozil is set to take up a position as the most advanced midfielder with Santi Cazorla drifting in from the left. Up front, Arsenal’s options are even more limited. The club’s other summer signing Yaya Sanogo is a doubt with a back injury that caused him to miss France Under-21’s away win over Belarus. That leaves Olivier Giroud as the only established option to lead the line. Even Nicklas Bendtner, who surprisingly remained at the Emirates this summer and has not played for the club in more than two years, is not fully fit.
Arsenal head to the North East on the back of two consecutive wins in the Premier League, which have seen the club recover from their opening-day defeat to Aston Villa. On Wednesday, Arsenal begin their group stage games in the Champions League with a trip to Marseille.