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Arsenal record-signing Mesut Ozil set for debut to help maintain club's buoyant start
LONDON - With the disruption of the international break over, Premier League clubs will be looking for their late additions to make an instant impact this weekend.
Arsenal has pinned its hopes on record-signing Mesut Ozil, the only transfer fee paid out by the club in the recent market window.
The Germany playmaker is in line to make his debut at Sunderland on Saturday after joining from Real Madrid for 50 million euros ($67 million) on Sept. 2.
"Of course it is very physical here, but it is a man's sport and I am really glad to play in the best league in the world," Ozil said Thursday. "I want to prove myself in England."
After a losing start, Arsenal responded with back-to-back wins, and Ozil's arrival has further improved the mood at the Emirates Stadium.
"He has a style of play which can integrate with our style because we have a game which is based on movement, technical ability and creativity," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "He has all the attributes to be one of the leaders of our team."
Ozil's arrival was the sign of Arsenal exerting its financial muscle after years of limited spending.
"We had to go through some years when I signed a long-term contract where we had some restricted financial potential, and the target was to stay in the Champions League in this period," said Wenger, whose contract expires at the end of the season. "We managed to do it, and we are now in a strong position financially."
Manchester United had talked of making several additions to the squad to its Premier League title-winning squad. However, new manager David Moyes' only major recruitment was Marouane Fellaini from Everton on deadline-day for 27.5 million pounds ($43 million).
The Belgium midfielder joined after Moyes failed to land his first-choice targets.
"It is a big step for me," Fellaini said. "But I have played five years in England, I know the league and I know the players so I don't think I will have a problem with this move."
He arrives at a team that has endured a patchy start to the season.
It started on a high with an eye-catching win at Swansea, but a drab draw against Chelsea and a loss at Liverpool followed to leave United going into Saturday's match against Crystal Palace five points off the lead.
Liverpool is setting the pace so far as the only team with maximum points from a three straight 1-0 wins.
The 18-time English champions, who are at Swansea on Monday, have made their best start to a league campaign in 20 years.
Liverpool's big success over the off-season was not caving into Luis Suarez's demands by granting the unsettled striker a transfer, while bolstering its forward options on deadline-day by signing Victor Moses on loan from Chelsea for the season.
But striker Daniel Sturridge, who has scored all of Liverpool's goals this season, is an injury doubt after missing England's World Cup qualifiers over the last week with a left thigh injury.
The strong start by Liverpool, which last won the title in 1990, has left the expected leading title contenders — Chelsea and Manchester City — trailing at this early stage.
Chelsea, which is two points behind, is at Everton on Saturday, when City takes on Stoke.
City is three points adrift of Liverpool along with Arsenal, Stoke and Tottenham.
The international break allowed Tottenham to settle following Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping the loss in the last match at Arsenal proves to be a blip as he looks for his squad — reassembled by reinvesting the $130 million windfall from Bale's move — to gel quickly.
"After the defeat at Arsenal, we want to be back alongside the top teams," Villas-Boas said ahead of Saturday's match against Norwich.
Everton, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion are still searching for their first wins.
Although Everton has managed three draws from three games, Sunderland and West Brom are stuck at the bottom with one point each.
West Brom is at Fulham on Saturday, when Aston Villa hosts Newcastle and Cardiff is at Hull. In Sunday's only game, Southampton hosts West Ham — both teams with a win, a loss and a draw so far.
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