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Mesut Ozil dazzled on Arsenal debut despite being sick

Sep 16, 2013, 1:37 PM EDT

With two touches of his expensive left foot in the 11th minute of Arsenal’s win over Sunderland on Saturday afternoon, Mesut Ozil showed everyone why Arsene Wenger paid so much for him.

A high-looping ball was played to him on his debut by Kieran Gibbs down the left flank, and like an experienced ballerina Ozil cushioned the ball perfectly into his stride before slotting across a perfect pass for Olivier Giroud to run onto and finish first time.

In the first half Ozil was exquisite. The ‘King of the Assist’ had arrived in the Premier League.

Every time he touched the ball he oozed class. One touch, then a shimmy to get away from a defender, deft flicks around the corner to Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey and sublime passes through to Theo Walcott. He looked the real deal and worth every penny of the $60million the Gunners paid Real Madrid for him on transfer deadline day.

(MORE: Arsene Wenger lauds Giroud and Ramsey after Arsenal win)

But despite his sensational first 45 minutes in an Arsenal shirt, the German international faded a little in the second half.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed exactly why that was in the post-game interview I was in.

“He [Ozil] was like the team, he had an outstanding first half and dropped in the second half,” Wenger said. “He was sick on Thursday night and I decided only today to play him, this morning. He had a stomach bug and didn’t feel well. He dropped a bit psychically in the second half but his first half was outstanding.”

source: Getty Images

Ozil delicately controls a long ball on the way to his first assist in an Arsenal shirt.

Wenger also revealed that he wanted to start the 24-year-old attacker on the bench but had his hand forced after Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla was ruled out with an ankle injury.

“He would have certainly been [on the bench], due to the fact that he was sick I would not have taken a gamble. But i didn’t have much choice,” Wenger said. “Cazorla has an ankle problem, I don’t think he will play before the next international break.”

Yet with Ozil showing flashes of his true talent throughout a totally dominant first half display for Arsenal, you have to wonder whether or not the Gunners will actually miss Cazorla. Ozil was that good. Gasps of delighted emanated from the press box and the stands as Ozil slithered between Sunderland’s midfielders and continued to thread balls through to Giroud, Wilshere and Walcott with ease.

Safe to say, it was definitely worth splashing the cash for this guy.

His movement is that of a proper player. Ozil makes the game look so easy, and you can see why over the last five seasons across Europe’s top five leagues he has more assists than any other player, with 73.

(MORE: Arsenal ‘lucky’ after controversial victory over Sunderland)

Ozil never seemed rushed on his debut, always had time on the ball and often he wouldn’t lift his head up before playing a pass, as he’d already surveyed the situation before the incoming pass had even reached his feet. That’s the sign of a true creator.

But Wenger may have a problem when Cazorla returns to full-fitness… how will he fit them all into the same team?

Ozil, Wilshere, on-fire Ramsey, Cazorla and Flamini are all fighting for three central places. England international Wilshere was shunted out to the left for the majority of Arsenal’s win on Saturday but it seems as though the flexibility between him and Ozil will see them both drift between the left and the center.

No matter where the German international plays, Arsenal’s title credentials seem to be getting stronger as the season goes on.

  1. danielofthedale - Sep 16, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Santi can play the left flank of the three in the 4-2-3-1. Santi, Ozil, and Theo should be first choice. I have no proble rotating Jack and Flamini since Jack is as fragil as porcelain china.

  2. goonerfreak - Sep 16, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Amazing as it may seem to say this, But near the end of the month when Santi is back, what about Ramsey? He is on fire, you have to go with the hot hand, and for now at least, he needs to be in the side, maybe a rotation of him, Theo and Santi on the sides? God knows Santi has too many minutes, which has to be contributing to the injury. But after he returns, it does give some nice options if Rambo stays on form. Santi or Ozil? Theo or Ramsey? Santi or Theo? Santi or Rambo? Very nice. Who knows, maybe AW will finally start using tactical lineups, Theo is terrible when they park the bus on us, Ozil and Santi to help open things for Giroud, etc. And when did Jack become a CDM, lol. Weird seeing him back there, but he and Flamini make a nice rotation too. Jack can fit into many rotations really. Plus we are not even talking about Poldi, Ox, Mikel, Rozza all back at some point. Very nice to have these options. Now just deal with the back and maybe a striker.

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