International breaks can be tedious. When you waste 90 minutes of your life watching Ukraine 0-0 England, they can feel especially tedious. However it’s worth bearing in mind that whilst any international break isn’t usually exciting, the current one that we’re emerging from at the moment could have been a whole lot worse.
Imagine if Arsenal hadn’t beaten Tottenham in the North London derby. Imagine if Arsenal hadn’t signed Mesut Ozil on deadline day. This international break would have been torturous.
Fortunately, Olivier Giroud’s flicked finish and Real Madrid’s bizarre decision to sell Mesut Ozil meant this international break was more bearable than most, despite that match in Ukraine. Just because it has been bearable though doesn’t mean that fans aren’t itching for club football to return though.
It’s been 10 days now since Mesut Ozil’s arrival at Arsenal was confirmed, and despite the club doing as many picture specials as possible on arsenal.com, it’s not the same as seeing the German playing for the club. For some supporters, the idea of Ozil conducting the Arsenal midfield still will seem like a dream until it actually happens.
The first chance for that comes at 3pm on Saturday at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. With the injury to Tomas Rosicky, and the continuing doubts over the fitness of Jack Wilshere, the likelihood is that Ozil will start. Despite the Champions League starting next weekend, suggestions that Arsene Wenger could be reluctant to throw his record signing into the starting XI seem strange. He’s match fit and needs to learn the rigours of the Premier League eventually, so why not throw him straight in?
Whilst the Premier League is a lot different to other top leagues in Europe, sometimes the culture shock of it can be overplayed. Matches in the Premier League are often more competitive than other top leagues, there is less of a gap between the top and bottom sides and teams play a variety of footballing styles, but a world class player like Ozil shouldn’t need a long time to adapt to it. Regardless of how the opposing sides play, Ozil’s style of play fits well with the Arsenal way. He might have to be ready to get targeted with some tough tackling, but otherwise he should be able to slot straight into the Arsenal side.
The thought of Ozil linking up with the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere is an exciting one, and whilst play between them all is unlikely to click immediately, those players are good enough to be able to adapt quickly to playing alongside each other. Olivier Giroud has been in good form up front, so should benefit from having Ozil feeding him chances.
Against Tottenham, Arsenal did create some good chances but at times struggled to keep the ball. The defence was superb, but the Gunners weren’t quite at their fluent best. After a tough opening to the season, the players looked jaded at the end of the North London Derby. Even though some players have featured in the international games, the arrival of Ozil has undoubtedly given the squad a boost. Fans aren’t just excited to watch him, players are excited to play alongside him.
There could be a temptation for Arsene Wenger to rest some players before a midweek trip to Marseille, but injuries mean that the squad is still looking thin in places. I fully expect Wenger to pick the strongest team available to him against Sunderland. Paulo Di Canio’s current team are on a poor run of form, however Arsenal needed an epic performance from Bacary Sagna and a stunning Szczesny save to hold onto a 1-0 win with ten men in the same game last season so can’t take anything for granted on Saturday.
After the tantalising wait of the international break, Mesut Ozil is about to wear the yellow of Arsenal. Those who have been walking round in a dream for ten days can wake up on Saturday and should see Arsenal’s blockbusting German record signing starting for the Gunners.