Oct 1, 2013, 6:19 PM EST
It’s a bit early for sweeping pronouncements, but here goes one anyway: Of all the huge summer singings around Europe, and for all the pitchfork-and-lantern-level angst over Arsenal’s longstanding, conservative posture in the transfer market, has anyone had a bigger impact on their new club so far than Mesut Ozil?
Bale Schmale, right?
Again, it’s early. (The “Bale-Schmale” thing is just exaggeration for effect; no one get their Real Madrid dander up, please.) But Ozil is a handsome 4-for-4 in his Arsenal displays, inspiring his Gunners to the top of the Premier League table and to the top of the club’s tough Champions League group.
His impact was immense once again as Arsene Wenger’s club remained in control of Group F on Tuesday in North London. In the bigger picture, Ozil’s master class at the Emirates, one that left a quality Napoli side utterly defenseless, has Gunners fans wondering if the smooth German playmaker really was that one final, missing piece that Arsene Wenger has long talked about? And they can be forgiven now for wondering whether a big season in Europe and in England is unfolding … or is this just October fool’s gold?
Either way, Tuesday’s work of art is hardly the man’s first for Arsenal, even in these earliest of days in his time with the Gunners. Let’s quickly stroll back through the German international’s first four matches in Arsenal gear:
Sept. 14 vs. Sunderland (Premier League): It took Ozil all of 11 minutes to demonstrate the class that is making him worth every pence or penny of that big ($68 million) transfer fee: His first Gunners assist came via that memorable, delightful first touch, one that arranged a goal from Olivier Giroud in an eventual 3-1 win over Sunderland. Ozil also set up Theo Walcott twice in a first half to remember. Ironically, Ozil started only because of injury to midfielder Santi Cazorla.
Sept. 18 vs. Marseilles (Champions League): Ozil’s Champions League debut wasn’t the same smashing success (although he did create a little YouTube moment with a wonderfully clever back heel pass). His overall influence was marginal, but it wasn’t a talking point because the Gunners won impressively on the road (again), a 2-1 result at Marseille to successfully commence group play.
Sept. 22 vs. Stoke City (Premier League): The German international helped arrange all three Gunners goals in a 3-1 win at the Emirates. He had two actual assists and took the free kick that turned into Arsenal’s other strike. So, yeah … that’s making an impact. And that price of some $68 million – starting to look like a bargain?
Oct. 1 vs. Napoli (Champions League): Ozil’s early strike to begin the Gunners’ systematic destruction of the Italians on Tuesday was absolutely sublime. How easy he made a shot look that so many attackers would surely get all wrong. Afterward, Ozil was at the heart of a dazzling display, one that has Gunners fans wondering: is this Arsenal’s best shot at a real UEFA run since reaching the 2006 final?
Dec 7, 2013, 11:05 PM EST
We’ll know in the next few days:
Dec 7, 2013, 11:00 PM EST
Can the Gunners stretch their lead at the summit? Will Fulham stop the rot? Both games live on NBCSN:
Dec 7, 2013, 10:00 PM EST
Experience was key early, set pieces came back to haunt them, and nobody will remember how you lost.
Dec 7, 2013, 9:28 PM EST
A few take-aways from Sporting Kansas City’s side on the clubs’ MLS Cup triumph Saturday over Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park:
Dec 7, 2013, 9:01 PM EST
Both coaches said so after Saturday’s exciting match:
Dec 7, 2013, 8:35 PM EST
Sporting Kansas City’s center back scored a goal in the run of play and then nailed a beauty of a penalty kick:
Dec 7, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
Round-by-round as Sporting Kansas City wins MLS Cup 2013 in a 10-round penalty kick tiebreaker.
Dec 7, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
KANSAS CITY – After 10 rounds of penalty kicks, Major League Soccer has a 2013 champion.
Dec 7, 2013, 6:22 PM EST
NBC’s Arlo White and Graeme Le Saux break down Manchester City’s tie with Southampton on Saturday:
Dec 7, 2013, 5:19 PM EST
What a huge days for the Potters; hear what the club’s U.S. international right back has to say about it:
Dec 7, 2013, 4:20 PM EST
Obviously, this is also the coldest kickoff for an MLS championship match … by a long, long way, in fact:
Dec 7, 2013, 3:40 PM EST
RSL’s two injury doubts are ready, while Sporting rolls with the XI that got them to MLS Cup 2013.
Dec 7, 2013, 3:05 PM EST
Looking at how today’s match might play out from the visitors side:
Dec 7, 2013, 3:05 PM EST
Bayern stay four points above Bayern Leverkusen, who are now six above Dortmund in the Bundesliga table.
MLS Cup preview: Real Salt Lake meets Sporting Kansas City to decide Major League Soccer’s 18th championship
Dec 7, 2013, 3:00 PM EST
Two well-regarded American coaches, two super defenses and record cold temperatures are the dominant sub-plots:
Dec 7, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
Shocks results steal the limelight but there’s also big wins for Palace, Spurs and Liverpool in a busy day of action:
Dec 7, 2013, 2:27 PM EST
Spurs put in dominant display as AVB’s men continue their resurgence by slaying bottom club Sunderland:
Dec 7, 2013, 2:13 PM EST
FIFA have changed the times of six World Cup fixtures, including the scheduled kickoff time for USA – Portugal.
Dec 7, 2013, 1:19 PM EST
After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Liverpool, Sam Allardyce appeared frustrated. So, too, are many of West Ham’s fans.
Dec 7, 2013, 12:51 PM EST
After yet another poor defensive display, Mourinho is worried about the defensive solidity of his Chelsea side:
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