12 September 2013

The lads take to Colney as Sunderland awaits...

It's been a long, dull couple of weeks that not even a 2-0 victory for the U.S. over Mexico could do much about. Finally, we can get back to some footballing action that brings us together as the squad prepares to face Sunderland on Saturday. At the risk of becoming
some kind of Özil-fanböy (one, I'm already too far gone, and two, let that be the last time I drop an umlaut where it doesn't belong. Seems to be a fad of some kind for some reason or other), our newest player showed us a taste of his artistry during Germany's qualifiers, notching an assist against Austria and scoring against the Faroe Islands while creating any number of chances for teammates that went just wide, were cleared off the line, or were scuffed. With Rosický officially scratched from Saturday's match, we can hope that Özil can slot in without too much trouble. It would be nice to have Podolski available to add just a touch more familiarity, but them's the breaks.

On a brighter note, it's not like Özil joins a foundering squad and faces pressure to single-handedly resurrect it. Giroud has started brightly, for one, and only looks set to improve as he and Özil get to know each other. Even more exciting is the potential threat posed by the two-pronged attack of Özil and Cazorla; the former seems to prefer prowling down the right (even if this sees him sending balls in from the outside of his preferred left) while the latter likes to slice into the center. These attacks, along with the service already on offer from Ramsey and others, could see us pouncing on Sunderland (who have conceded five goals in their last two matches) early and often, for it's not merely the skill that the new signing contributes; it's surely a jolt of confidence to see a teammate of this caliber on the pitch, to know what he's capable of, and to draw inspiration from that. The attacking options in the midfield include a number of putative #10's on (Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Rosický, and Özil having all played there at various times), which would allow us to further continue a fluid, rotating midfield of the sort that flummoxed Fulham so thoroughly.

You can see a few shots of the squad warming up at Arsenal.com; everyone seems happy and eager to run and stretch and do whatever else they do when cameras are pointed at them. It all looks like a great deal of fun, I must say. With Rosický out and Wilshere still finding his way to full fitness, I imagine we'll see Ramsey and Flamini behind Cazorla, Özil, and Walcott on Sunday, which sounds like even more fun than the kick-around. There's still a fair amount of thumb-twiddling to be done, which means that attention turns to other affairs, such as Arsène's contract. Speaking to the press today, he said this:
We are not in a hurry. We are in September, my contract finishes in June. There is a long way to go. There is no need to [talk].
Of course, how the season turns out will be a factor. The signing of Özil both increases the prospect of winning some silverware and ratchets up the pressure around doing so. His arrival doesn't guarantee silverware, of course, but should we fail to hoist a trophy of some sort, this could just close the door on the Prof's contract-talks. Let's set that unpleasant thought aside and enjoy the promise of a new season and a strong start that looks set to get even better. There's a lot of football to be played, and it will be great to see this group back on the pitch come Saturday. I just wonder whom Özil will set up first...