Who could make way for Mesut Ozil?

Sports Mole takes a look at Arsenal's long-term midfield prospects ahead of Mesut Ozil's likely start against Sunderland.

The summer transfer window was a very interesting one for Arsenal. They started it by declaring that there was money to spend on players and then entered the final day with just the signings of Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini to speak of. However, then came the talking point of the entire window.

Rumours had surfaced that Arsene Wenger was tracking none other than Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Speculation turned into confirmation of a bid, before the German international was unveiled with just hours of the deadline to go. With it now understood that Ozil will start on Saturday against Sunderland, who is likely to miss out in the long term in Arsenal's lineup?

Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid attacks during the pre season friendly match between Bournemouth and Real Madrid at Goldsands Stadium on July 21, 2013© Getty Images

For all the talk that this was the year Arsenal would slip outside the Premier League's top four following their miserable opening-day 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa, things have gone well on the pitch since. Despite injuries to key players and the perceived lack of spending, the Gunners beat Fulham by the same scoreline and won the early North London bragging rights with victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

The players in Arsenal's midfield for those games, some of whom not regular starters in recent months, have so far stepped up, but with Ozil certain to slot straight into the team Wenger will need to shuffle his pack - even if only a little in the short-term.

Ozil's arrival is timely. Currently, the Gunners have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and now Tomas Rosicky - who himself stepped in against Spurs - out with injuries. An extra body in midfield, particularly one as creative as the German, will ensure that Wenger can continue to name a competitive side, but what now is his best midfield?

Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal tackles Andros Townsend of Spurs during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 01, 2013© Getty Images

Welshman Aaron Ramsey has rarely been considered a key player in the Arsenal midfield, but since starting against Fenerbahce in the Champions League qualifier three weeks ago he has played an important role both going forward, where he is naturally more adept, and even getting stuck in at the right time. On his current form he has to start and should he keep it up then Arteta could have a difficult time getting his place back.

Alongside him, Jack Wilshere is the golden boy of this Arsenal generation. He came through the youth ranks and has represented his country through the Under-16s into the first team. His passion for the club, his tenacity for the cause and creativity from a deeper position has make him a mainstay alongside usually a more defensive-minded player.

Further forward is where things get interesting. Theo Walcott has made the right flank his own with some impressive performances this and last season. With Oxlade-Chamberlain out there is very little competition to him and he will surely continue there for the foreseeable future.

Santi Cazorla of Arsenal runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League Play Off Second leg match between Arsenal FC and Fenerbahce SK at Emirates Stadium on August 27, 2013© Getty Images

Santi Cazorla was a huge part of the reason Arsenal managed to edge out Spurs into fourth last season. He provided the creative spark as well as goals from behind the striker and has been a big influence already this. The problem here is that Ozil is an even better player at unlocking defences from high up the pitch, which means that Cazorla is likely to move across to the familiar attacking role from the left that he impressed in for Malaga.

With Podolski at least two months away from a return and Rosicky also now out, Wenger's team names itself. When the German, who has been so impressive this season, returns, Arsenal's dilemma may begin. It may be that Cazorla and Ozil combine so well that Podolski is never again thought of, but he could well be back in the team if Arsenal's left no longer threatens. In the end, it could be Oxlade-Chamberlain who drops furthest down the pecking order.

When Arsenal's injured players do begin to return, Wenger could well face a headache with his team selection. However, that is a better headache to have than the one before Ozil was a part of his team.

Nicklas Bendtner
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