Sunderland, England – A host of players are set to suit up for new Premier League clubs this weekend following the close of the summer transfer window a fortnight ago, but perhaps no debut will draw more attention than Mesut Ozil's first match for Arsenal.
The Gunners, particularly longtime manager Arsene Wenger, have come under fire in recent seasons for failing to open up the checkbook and strengthen the squad. But that changed Sept. 2 when the London side signed the Germany international from Real Madrid for a club record fee of $66 million.
Arsenal fans have not yet seen Ozil in action wearing the famed red kit due to a FIFA international break last weekend, but the 24-year-old looks set to make his Gunners debut when the club heads to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland on Saturday.
"I have watched a lot of Premier League games," Ozil said. "It is very physical here but I am really glad to play in the best league in the world. I want to prove myself in England and I look forward to playing here. I know I will prove myself here."
Arsenal has not hoisted a piece of silverware since it claimed the FA Cup in 2005, but Ozil believes he has joined a squad that is strong enough to change that disappointing eight-year run.
"Of course," Ozil said when asked if Arsenal could finish the season atop the Premier League. "I know the team, I know that talent we have here and I think every player wants to be successful. It will be difficult because this is the strongest league in the world."
The journey starts Saturday as the Gunners take on a Sunderland side that is desperate for points.
The Black Cats enter the weekend second from bottom having taken just one point from its first three games. Paolo Di Canio's seat as manager could be getting a bit heated, increasing the pressure for Sunderland to get a positive result on home soil.
Manchester United was largely inactive in the transfer window, but its one big signing could be on the Old Trafford pitch when the club hosts Crystal Palace on Saturday. Marouane Fellaini joined the Red Devils from Everton on deadline day to team up once again with his former Toffees boss, David Moyes. And after an impressive outing for Belgium against Scotland on Friday, Fellaini would stand to add a great deal of industry to a United side that has gone winless since opening the season with a 4-1 victory at Swansea City.
Tottenham has coped with the loss of Gareth Bale by transforming the squad. A great deal of the club's business was done prior to the start of the Premier League season, but Spurs will attempt to put all the pieces together on Saturday when they welcome Norwich City to White Hart Lane.
Chelsea and Manchester City also return to action Saturday as they hope to improve their title credentials at Everton and Stoke City, respectively.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Hull City hosts Cardiff City in a meeting of two promoted sides, Aston Villa welcomes Newcastle to Villa Park and West Bromwich Albion heads to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham.
Sunday's lone match will see West Ham United and Southampton, both on four points, square off at St. Mary's, while Monday's only fixture will see Liverpool attempt to maintain its perfect start to the season when it heads to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City.