Wenger Sings Ozil’s Praises
Arsene Wenger, not for the first time, sang Mesut Ozil’s praises after the Arsenal playmaker ran the show in the club’s 2-0 win over SSC Napoli on Tuesday night at Emirates Stadium.
The 24-year-old midfielder first opened the scoring in the eighth minute by superbly finishing Aaron Ramsey’s cross from the right flank. It was his first ever goal for the North London club. Just seven minutes later, he assumed the more familiar role of facilitator and provided yet another assist for striker Olivier Giroud.
As expected, his all-round performance impressed Wenger a great deal, who later told Sky Sports: “In the) first half he was absolutely amazing. Everything was in there. Collective skill, individual skill, finishing. All that you dream to see in the stand when you come to see football. It’s good [for Ozil to get his first goal]. When you take too long to score it is on your mind but he got rid of that. I loved him when he was at Madrid, I thought he was great there. We are lucky to have got him. He enjoys playing football and enjoys playing with his team-mates – he’s integrated very quickly”
When asked if the performance was his club’s best so far this season, the Arsenal boss answered in the affirmative, saying: “I think so, especially in the first half. I felt that we played at a good pace technically, were direct and finished with great goals. Overall the first half was outstanding. Second half, we played more with more maturity, less drive going forward and a bit more caution. But overall it was an outstanding game.”
Having won both the opening two games in the competition, the Gunners now lead their group with six points. It’s a very comfortable position to be in, but Wenger isn’t about to relax any time soon.
He added: “We can not start any better. The next two will be the deciders. We want to come back after the international break and play like that against Dortmund.”
Napoli Win the Best of the Season – Arteta
Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat of Napoli on Wednesday was their best performance of the ongoing campaign, according to their vice-captain Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners dominated the Serie A side from start to finish, and could’ve scored several more times if they had kept up the tempo in the second half too. In the post-match interview with Sky Sports, when Arteta was asked if it was the club’s most accomplished display of the season, he replied: “Considering we were playing against a top team, it probably is. We were very intense from the start, very good on the ball, very good at winning the ball back early and we played as a team very efficiently. The first 45 minutes were terrific.”
“We know we have got the talent up front to score goals and this year, even last year at the end, everyone is working really hard and we have great solidarity around the team. We know that if we lose the ball we can get it back quickly, and I think that’s the key because winning the ball back in the final third we are very dangerous.”
But the Spaniard reminded that good early season form wouldn’t matter much if they couldn’t keep up the same level of play for the entire campaign.
“It’s only early, we haven’t won anything yet,” he added. “There is still a lot of work to do. I think we can improve as well. We have got a lot of injuries, we are waiting for some players to get back, and we will add more quality. There is a lot of hunger around the team. We want to keep winning, it is nice to do and we want to keep the run.”
Giroud Harbours Ballon D’Or Ambitions
Olivier Giroud believes he can realise his dream of winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or title by using his tried and tested approach of taking one step at a time.
The Arsenal striker says that he has always progressed in his career by setting and accomplishing small targets, and he plans on taking the same route to his ultimate dream of becoming the very best in the world.
France Football have quoted Giroud as saying: “What has always made me succeed is the fact I set sensible objectives. I grew that way, step by step. Before thinking about Ballon d’Or, before being part of the top 10 players in the world, I first have to be in top 10 forwards in England. I am starting to make a name for myself among that top 10 and I want to do it this year. That is a short-term objective. Talking about that two years ago, I would have said it was not sensible. Now I am aware I have the right potential to make it.”
The 27-year-old marksman, who scored his sixth goal of the young season last night, then talked about his growing relationship with the Arsenal fans.
He said: “Fans chanting my name is really great. I am very proud of that. It is great honour to have been adopted by the fans so quickly. That gives you desire to pay back on the pitch. I think they feel I give my very best. I don’t only think about scoring. The second seasons are always difficult. Last season I scored and assisted so people will ask for more. So, more expectation and more pressure. When I joined the club of course I put myself under big pressure may be too much because I replaced Van Persie. Frankly early last season, I didn’t make the right gestures, I was tense. I was stiff like a stick.”
Benitez Rues Slow Start
Napoli boss Rafa Benitez rued his team’s slow start in the 2-0 away defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night but gave credit to the home side for capitalising on his men’s errors.
Playing without their best player Gonzalo Higuain – who picked up an injury prior to the game – the Partenopei were second-best from the very beginning and had conceded twice in the opening quarter of an hour.
After the game, Benitez – who was very respectful of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger on his re-visit to North London – told Sky Sports: “We made some mistakes. We gave them the advantage and we know that they have players with quality, and the first 15 minutes changed the game. It was difficult for us to react and credit to Arsenal because they did well.”
On the absence of his star forward Higuain, he commented: “Obviously he is an important player for us. When you don’t have your main striker then you have to match the situation, and especially when you concede two goals and you know you don’t have this option, that makes it more difficult.”