Arsene Wenger praises Mesut Ozil influence after midfielder laid on all three Arsenal goals in victory over Stoke
The 24-year-old provided three dead-ball crosses, including two direct assists, to lay the foundations for the win in his home debut
Sunday 22 September 2013
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was full of praise for the influential Mesut Ozil after the Germany international had a hand in all three goals for his side in the 3-1 victory over Stoke.
Ozil was making his home debut and he lit –up the match with a perfect demonstration of his dead-ball ability, notching two direct assists and also having a hand in the third.
Aaron Ramsey continued his tremendous start to the season as he netted his sixth goal in seven appearances for his club, while defensive duo Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna, - both linked with an imminent contract extension due to their impressive starts to the season – both got on the score-sheet.
Ozil provided the corner and free kick for the latter two goals respectively, while his shot from another free kick just outside the Stoke area was parried by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic straight into the path of the alert Ramsey, who calmly slotted home with the Bosnian stranded.
Wenger admitted that it was a rarity to see so much success from the Gunners at the set-piece, though he welcomed it and praised Ozil’s influence in the process.
"I didn't expect to score so many headers from free-kicks against Stoke, but the delivery is very important and the deliveries were good today," Wenger told Sky Sports.
"Like the team he (Ozil) gave a lot on Wednesday night (against Marseille), but he showed his class today and he worked hard as well."
The Gunners earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Marseille on Wednesday, but with Wenger naming an unchanged line-up he felt his side ran out of steam in the second half, with the Frenchman unable to rotate his squad due to the mounting number of injuries they currently have.
Their problems are increased when England winger Theo Walcott was forced to pull out of the squad moments before kick-off due to an abdominal complaint, with the 24-year-old falling ill yesterday. Youngster Serge Gnabry was called up from the bench to take his place to make just his second league appearance for the side, with Ryo Miyaichi taking his place on the bench.
"We had a good first half and the second half was more digging in a little bit because we lost our fluency, you could see that we lacked legs a bit but overall it's of course an important three points.
"The confidence is there and the desire is there, and that's a very strong base. We can score goals and create chances, today in the second half we lost our usual game but in the end we won."
Stoke manager Mark Hughes was disappointed with the defeat, as he felt they could get something out of the match when Geoff Cameron equalised midway through the first-half.
"We're disappointed but I certainly thought we made a right fist of it,” Hughes admitted.
"I felt just prior to their third goal we were in total control of the game and, obviously given they had a tough game in midweek, I thought that if we kept in the game there and still passed and moved round we could have created opportunities in the last period.
"As it was, the third goal really knocked the stuffing out of us and really made it difficult to get back on terms then. But up to that point I thought we were always in the game and always looking to play the right way."
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