Arsene Wenger insists he never thought about dropping Mesut Ozil after the Germany midfielder finally delivered a dominant display in Arsenal’s 3-0 victory against Aston Villa.
Ozil produced a fine finish to open the scoring from Danny Welbeck’s pass and then the England striker scored his first Arsenal goal two minutes later after his team-mate had returned the favour.
Aly Cissokho’s own goal made it three goals in four minutes for the rampant Gunners, but it was the influential Ozil who stole the spotlight at the end of a week in which Wenger had to field questions about the former Real Madrid star’s poor form following a 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Ozil has been well below his best for much of his first year with Arsenal following his club record £42 million ($68 million) switch from Real, but Gunners boss Wenger was adamant he was always certain the playmaker would come good.
“I never considered leaving Ozil out,” said Wenger, as Arsenal won for only the second time in the Premier League this season.
“I have many offensive players and we look to always find the right balance, it’s not always easy. I gave (Alexis) Sanchez a rest as he has played many games.
“We have plenty of experienced players who do not play at the moment who are at top quality.
“But it was the point where we had to show Ozil confidence was there. He showed as well he can perform when under scrutiny.
“It’s always a very sensitive point if you leave them out, you never know how they will respond. Ozil wants to play in the middle but I have 10 others who want to play there.”
– Big price tag –
Welbeck has arrived at the Emirates Stadium with a big price tag following a £16 million move from Manchester United and Wenger was delighted to see him open his account.
“It was a similar goal to the one Danny scored for England in Switzerland, cross from the left and pushed it in following good timing,” said Wenger.
“It was a very good performance, he kept the ball well. His all-round performance was very good for a centre forward.
“I was very pleased he’s scored a goal as quickly as people. Knowing the media, it was very important for him to score.
“It was the response we needed after Tuesday. Aston Villa started quite well and had one or two danger situations. But after that we were in control and scored three goals in three minutes.
“In the second half it was a possession game and we controlled it.”
Wenger’s opposite number Paul Lambert announced he intends to shut Villa’s training ground after a sickness bug robbed him of Nathan Baker, Darren Bent and Ashley Westwood, with Andreas Weimann forced off at half-time.
Fabian Delph and Brad Guzan were also ill this week.
“We have had so much bad luck,” Lambert said. “Fabian’s had a bug, Guzan’s had a bug. The virus has gone around and we will have to shut the training ground.
“Nathan and Darren pulled out this morning. Westy was sick during the warm-up and Andi was sick at half-time.
“Fabian was not well for the Liverpool game, Guzan’s had it this week. I don’t feel 100 per cent and I will probably shut the training ground for a couple of days.
“I thought the start we had was pretty good. When you are not feeling great it is difficult.
“We were running on empty. At 3-0 the game became empty but I can’t be critical of the team. Arsenal were clinical but it was tough.”
On a positive note, Lambert announced Belgium striker Christian Benteke has returned to training and will be available soon. – Agence France-Presse