Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal debut has been plunged into doubt after both he and defender Per Mertesacker failed to take part in training today, with the latter not traveling to Sunderland ahead of Saturday’s Premier League fixture.
Arsenal completed the £42.5m signing of Ozil on transfer deadline day, smashing the club’s previous record as they looked to make a serious statement of their ambition this year.
Ozil is due to make his first appearance for the club when they take on Paolo Di Canio’s side at the Stadium of Light tomorrow, but after reporting for training earlier today feeling under the weather, he was instructed to sit out the session held in wet weather conditions at their London Colney base.
The 24-year-old German has travelled with the rest of the squad, although Wenger may choose to start him from the bench – if at all – as he looks to introduce him to the rigours of the Premier League.
Wenger did not mention that Ozil and Mertesacker had missed training earlier, and he still hopes that the attacking midfielder will feature against the Black Cats.
His hand could be forced through the thigh injury picked up by Tomas Rosicky that has ruled the Czech Republic captain out of this weekend’s clash, although both Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are expected to start after Wenger confirmed they are fit following England’s match in Kiev on Tuesday.
Mertesacker also sat out the session, and is said to have stayed in London as the rest of the squad head north for the encounter. The Germany international scored for his country along with Ozil in the 3-0 victory over the Faroe Islands on Tuesday, but his absence will be felt by the Gunners defence.
Mertesacker has had an impressive start to the season having formed a reliable partnership with Laurent Koscielny in the run in to the last campaign, where the north London side went 10 matches unbeaten on their way to securing the final Champions League spot.
The news was slightly eased with Thomas Vermaelen’s return to fitness, although having missed the entire pre-season and start to the new campaign, there will be serious questions over if he is ready to feature. With Vermaelen’s history with injuries, Wenger will be concerned with throwing him straight into the starting line-up.
He could therefore choose to start Bacary Sagna alongside Koscielny and bring in Carl Jenkinson at right-back – a tactic he has utilised in previous years as well as in pre-season. Another option would be to start Mathieu Flamini at full-back, with the Italian returning to the Emirates towards the end of the transfer window.