Arsenal 4 Everton 1: 'Important' Mesut Ozil gives Arsenal a confidence boost ahead of Bayern Munich Champions League tie
The German impressed in the 4-1 win over Everton on Saturday
Arsenal will fly to Bavaria today believing they can repeat last season’s 2-0 win at Bayern Munich and maintain their Champions League campaign. Trailing 2-0 from the first-leg Arsenal must match that score to force extra-time, then penalties.
It is a tall order against a team which recorded their 16th successive Bundesliga victory on Saturday when they won 6-1 at fifth placed Wolfsburg, but the Gunners’ confidence was revived by their 4-1 defeat of Everton in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final, and the return to form of Mesut Ozil in particular.
Ozil has been off the boil, especially since missing a penalty early in the first leg against Bayern, but, lifted by scoring an early goal, he produced a fine all-round performance which not only included the assist for Olivier Giroud’s second, but also plenty of what Arsene Wenger called ‘the dirty work’, like tracking back.
“His goal was important to him,” said Wenger. “I think the penalty miss affected him mentally too much. He had the feeling he let the team down at a very important moment of the game. That affected his performance very much.
“Psychologically sometimes the wound is like a physical one. You can talk and talk and talk, but it takes time. You just have to leave it to time. I think he is over it. He was absolutely outstanding from the first to the last minute. He has a good opportunity to show on Tuesday night [in Munich] how good he is.”
Wenger was also pleased with Ozil’s defensive work off the ball. “It is something he has to adapt to [since coming from La Liga]. First you have to convince yourself mentally that you have to do it. Then to adapt physically. Today he looked to me to have a really complete performance on both sides, defensive and offensive.”
Ozil was not, however, Arsenal’s star performer. That was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was a constant threat. The young Englishman was out for five months after being injured on the season’s opening day but now looks close to his best.
“I feel good when I'm on the pitch,” he said. “I feel sharp, I feel like I'm there or thereabouts and with every game that I play my fitness will only improve.
“Coming back into the intensity the Premier League is played at, after three or four weeks it feels like you've played a lot. But you get over that and you start to bed into it and feel good. That's the stage I'm at now.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has not played at Wembley for Arsenal – their last appearance was the 2011 Football League Cup final defeat to Birmingham City – and said of the forthcoming semi-final: “You watch FA Cup games at Wembley when you are growing up and that's where you want to be. That's the stage. It’s definitely a big thing for us but we can't get too carried away and let that occasion affect us too much.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was speaking before the draw pitted Arsenal against Wigan Athletic added: “We just have to approach it like we do every other game. We want to be excited but approach it very professionally, calm and cool as we can. Hopefully we can get through and get to the final.” The long wait for a trophy [Arsenal’s last was in 2005] was, he admitted, “always there in the back of your mind”.
First, though, there is tomorrow’s tie in Munich. “We have definitely got a chance. Last season we went there 3-1 down - everyone wrote us off, but we managed to get a good 2-0 win. We can take from that. In football a lot of things can happen.”
Wenger hopes Laurent Koscielny will be fit to face Bayern but there is a fresh doubt over Kieran Gibbs who suffered a calf strain on Saturday.
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