December 11 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Arsene Wenger has admitted that Mesut Ozil was a luxury signing but one he could not ignore as the German is a world-class player.
The 24-year-old’s arrival has coincided with a lifting of the gloom that had attached itself to Arsenal in recent seasons, but before capturing he the former Real Madrid ace there was little talk of finding a new playmaker as they already had two in Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky.
Instead Wenger spent most of the summer trying to land a big name striker, only to fail in his pursuits for Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Demba Ba.
Chief among other concerns were that the Frenchman was also short of a top quality goalkeeper, a holding midfielder and a centre back that would once again restore the Gunners as real title challengers.
As it is turning out, the re-signing of free agent Mathieu Flamini and the good form of defender Per Mertesacker appears to have filled two of those gaps, while striker Olivier Giroud has quietly carried on with main task of finding the net on a regular basis.
But Arsenal fans wanted a marquee summer signing and they got one in the shape of club record £42.5million signing Ozil - a transfer Wenger felt was a no-brainer, regardless of the need for him.
“We are in a world of competition and you look first at the quality,” Wenger said.
“When you have high expectation levels you never turn down a world-class player.
“Where I agree, is that there was no special emptiness [in the number 10 role], but the quality of the player was so big that it was difficult to say, ‘no, we won’t do it.’”
A maiden goal and an assist from the German during the midweek 2-0 Champions League win over Napoli added another layer to the feel-good factor enveloping the current Premier League table-toppers.
But even the manager is surprised at how quickly his newest recruit has settled into life in London.
“You never know how much time that takes,” the manager said of the 24-year-old’s integration into the squad and the Premier League. “You can never predict that.
“When I saw [how he] behaved in training I thought that it could be fairly quick.
“He has good physical qualities and I think that helps him.”
Ozil’s arrival has added more competition in midfield ranks than Wenger has starting berths for and the boss admitted yesterday that it is impossible to keep all of his players happy.
But he insists that Arsenal’s current purple patch – which could see a club record nine consecutive away wins, should they triumph at West Brom tomorrow – is down to more than a couple of new additions.
Indeed, barring the opening day of the season defeat at home to Aston Villa, Arsenal have carried their end of season form in to the current campaign.
“We have managed to get a better defensive stability,” Wenger said. “Our game with Bayern [a 2-0 away win in the Champions League last season] is maybe a turning point, where everybody expected us to be trounced and lose 6-0.
“After that, we managed a consistent run towards the end of the season and that convinced the players that we must have some quality.
“I believe as well that the consistency of our results comes from a greater attitude of the players.”
He added: “I believe we have a good mixture of young British players who have been educated here.
“I think every successful club has four of five players who are really homegrown, for example [Wojciech] Szczesny, [Kieran] Gibbs, [Jack] Wilshere, [Aaron] Ramsey, [Theo] Walcott, [Alex Oxlade-] Chamberlain have all grown up and started in the Premier League together.
“Then we have experienced players with a very good mentality and that’s basically it.
“Let’s not forget, we have won nothing and that it is all to do.
“We have to continue to have that hungry attitude to improve from game to game.
“I believe we can do better and there’s more to come from us but that will depend on how much we want it and how hungry we are to improve.”