Arsene Wenger says success for Arsenal will stem from team work - not just Mesut Ozil
The £43m signing laid on all three goals in the victory over Stoke City
Monday 23 September 2013
Manager Arsene Wenger maintains teamwork will be key to Arsenal's chances of success this season and not just the form of club-record signing Mesut Ozil.
The German playmaker continued his impressive start following a £43million deadline day switch from Real Madrid on Sunday when tackling Stoke at the Emirates Stadium, where he created all of his side's goals in the 3-1 win which sent the Gunners top of the Barclays Premier League.
First Aaron Ramsey smashed in his seventh goal of an impressive season after Ozil's fifth-minute free-kick was parried by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, but Geoff Cameron swept in a deserved equaliser for the visitors.
However, the class of Ozil again proved the difference as his corner was flicked home by compatriot Per Mertesacker to give Arsenal the lead once more before half-time, and then another pin-point deadball delivery made sure of all three points when Bacary Sagna looped in a header on 72 minutes.
Arsenal have responded with seven straight wins in all competitions since they were beaten 3-1 at home by Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, to lead the Premier League on goal difference from north-London rivals Tottenham.
If Ozil continues his impressive displays, Wenger's squad could be set for a long-overdue sustained assault on the Premier League title.
However, the Arsenal manager believes any success in 2013/2014 will be very much a collective effort.
He said: "Ozil gave a lift to everybody at the club and, for the rest, it will be the quality of our teamwork and our team play that will decide that.
"The only thing of our position at the moment is that we are in a position where we can focus on improvement in a stable environment, so that is a good basis. For the rest, [in] the table everyone is mathematically together."
Nevertheless, Wenger is in no doubt the 24-year-old can continue to take his game from strength to strength as the season develops.
"I believe that once he is completely integrated we will see even more of him, but he has shown again that he is a great player," the Arsenal manager continued.
"When you look at his numbers, the assists are not a coincidence, it is just the reality of his game."
The Arsenal manager was forced into a late change to his starting XI when England forward Theo Walcott suffered a minor abdominal strain during the warm-up and was replaced by German youngster Serge Gnabry.
"Walcott had an abdominal muscle problem," said Wenger. "Is it a question of days? I hope so. He had a little problem before the Marseille game and it became a bit worse.
"It is a bit mysterious because we don't really know what it is."
Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner was on the bench for the first time this season, having seen a move away during the transfer window blocked, and could now feature at West Brom in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes, meanwhile, felt his side could take great credit from their performance, despite the final result.
"We talked about trying to stay in the game in second half, and creating more opportunities for ourselves, and that is what we did with a level of control, but the third goal took the wind out of our sails," he said.
Hughes was, though, less than impressed by the performance of referee Mike Dean and his assistants Gary Beswick and Jake Collin.
The Stoke manager said: "I have seen that group of officials have better games, let's put it that way."
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