How Arsenal Will Line Up Against Sunderland
Having waited two decades for Arsenal to sign a player of Mesut Ozil's calibre, Gunners fans have had to wait almost two weeks to see him in action.
Not since Dennis Bergkamp arrived in North London have the North London side acquired a player of such undisputed talent. Arsene Wenger must now decide whether or not the German international is ready to be thrown straight in to the fray at Sunderland.
With Tomas Rosicky out injured, Wenger must choose between two new signings: Ozil and the returned Mathieu Flamini. Fielding Flamini alongside Aaron Ramsey as a holding midfielder would allow Jack Wilshere to play in his preferred No. 10 role.
Alternatively, Wilshere could be shackled in a deeper role alongside Ramsey, with Ozil taking the central playmaking spot.
Most of the team picks itself. Wojciech Szczesny will see off the challenge from new arrival Emiliano Viviano to keep his place between the sticks.
In defence, Bacary Sagna has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the North London derby and will replace Carl Jenkinson at right-back. Alongside him, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs will all retain their place after helping Arsenal keep a clean sheet against Tottenham.
Aaron Ramsey is certain to keep his place at the heart of the midfield, alongside one of Flamini or Wilshere, as outlined above.
Walcott may prove a decisive figure for Arsenal. Statistics suggest he is in far better form than Sunderland's right-winger, Adam Johnson:
Walcott has been more accurate than Johnson with both his passing and his crossing. The primary beneficiary of that has been Olivier Giroud, who already has three Premier League goals to his name. Giroud will start ahead of one of an advanced playmaker—Wilshere or Ozil.
I think it will be the latter. Despite Paolo Di Canio's feisty personality, his Sunderland team is actually much less aggressive than the Martin O'Neill side he inherited. The likes of Lee Cattermole have fallen out of favour and been replaced by intelligent ball players like David Vaughan.
Furthermore, manager Arsene Wenger is a cavalier at heart and I suspect he will opt for the flair of Ozil over the fight of Flamini.
That would leave Arsenal lining up thus:
The sight of Ozil in action is a tantalising prospect for Arsenal fans. They may not have to wait much longer.
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