Özil shines for Arsenal in debut
LONDON - Reuters
Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Özil prepares to shoot during the English Premier League football match between Sunderland and Arsenal at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland on Sept. 14. AFP photoIt took Mesut Özil just 11 minutes and two touches to fuel the excitement of Arsenal fans on Sept 14 as the club's record buy set his new team on the way to their third consecutive Premier League victory, 3-1 at Sunderland.
Özil, signed from Real Madrid for 42.5 million pounds at the end of the transfer window, took the plaudits on his debut on a day when Paolo Di Canio's emotions got the better of him again.
Sunderland's manager was sent off by Martin Atkinson after the referee had denied the Black Cats a second equaliser at the Stadium of Light, infuriating the under-pressure Italian.
"(Atkinson) came to me and said if you keep going with your manner I will send you up to the stand," Di Canio told the BBC.
"I said to him, 'If you want to complete a perfect job, you send me off'. And that is what he did. I will never invite the referee to send me off again."
Sunderland's third defeat of the season left Di Canio dealing with life at the bottom of the league but, after their own shaky start, Arsenal are looking upwards.
With Özil's capture, manager Arsene Wenger bowed to fans' demands and finally spent big, smashing the club's transfer record.
The manner in which Özil provided the opening goal showed why Wenger staked his future on the Germany midfielder.
Özil controlled a long, high clearance with one touch and then weighted a perfect pass for French striker Olivier Giroud to finish at the near post.
The German's contribution came a day after he had missed training through illness, putting his anticipated debut in jeopardy.
"You've seen what he is all about, slipping those balls in, he has one of the highest assist rates in Europe and he is going to create a lot of opportunities for us," said two-goal Aaron Ramsey.
Wenger said: "In the first half he [Özil] was outstanding. He was sick yesterday and didn't practice ... He dropped a bit physically in the second half but overall he was great."
Özil later tweeted: "3:1 ... i am so proud to be [a] member of this team."
Walcott wastes Özil's touches
His creativity could have led to more goals in the first half, particularly for Theo Walcott, but for wasteful finishing.
It allowed Sunderland a way back, as Craig Gardner levelled from the penalty spot shortly after the break.
Ramsey put Arsenal back in front before the moment that prompted Di Canio's anger.
Sunderland's Jozy Altidore had the ball in the net but the referee had already blown for a foul on the American striker.
"This is a big mistake," said Di Canio. "It's obvious, this is not Paolo Di Canio's opinion, the referee has to wait and see how the action finishes.
"When it is body to body with Jozy Altidore and Bacary Sagna, he has to wait until how it finishes and not stop the game. It was a big, big mistake."
Wenger said: "We were a bit lucky at 2-1 maybe but we found the mental resources to win.
"It could have been a foul for us as well because Altidore took out Sagna but the referee blew before the goal. I was sure of that because I saw him."
To make things worse for Di Canio, Wales midfielder Ramsey then added his second goal of the game and his sixth of the season for club and country.
In the last few seasons I've been getting into the right positions but maybe I've been lacking a bit of composure but I'm enjoying it now," Ramsey said.