Arsene Wenger revealed he took a gamble in handing a Premier League debut to Mesut Ozil in Arsenal's 3-1 win at Sunderland. The Frenchman's high-risk strategy paid off as the Gunners' £43m record signing played a key role in his English top-flight bow on Saturday.
Under-the-weather Ozil almost missed out due to a stomach bug, but he was pressed into immediate action following his high-profile move from Real Madrid due to injuries to a depleted squad. The Germany international was taken off late on after an impressive introduction, as two second-half goals from Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey helped seal victory to make it three wins from four games for the Arsenal.
After seeing his side strengthen their place among the early pacesetters thanks to two assists from his new arrival, Wenger revealed: "Mesut was like the team: he had an outstanding first half and dropped physically in the second.
"He was sick on Thursday night and I only decided this morning to play him because he had a stomach bug. His first-half performance was outstanding, but if Santi Cazorla had been fit, Ozil would have been on the bench as he was sick and I wouldn't have taken a gamble otherwise."
Olivier Giroud, who opened the scoring from Ozil's pass, is a major doubt for the midweek UEFA Champions League trip to Marseille with a knee injury, and Wenger conceded he is likely to be without Spanish midfielder Cazorla until the end of October.
The Frenchman added: "Cazorla's ankle problem means he will be out for a few weeks. I don't think he will play before the next international break. Giroud has a knee injury and we are very thin now."
Di Canio confident of 'good season'
Sunderland are now bottom of the table after collecting one point from their first four games. Manager Paolo Di Canio, who handed full league debuts to on-loan midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung and Greece winger Charis Mavrias, insisted his 14 new summer signings must be given time to gel.
"We were too shy and passive in the first half, and Arsenal were on top," he said. "But in the second half we dominated for long spells with determination, desire and quality. If we can continue to play like that we can have a good season.
"It's about playing like that for sustained spells. We're at the bottom after four games, but you can see that we have quality in the side."