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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Oct 1, 2013

Wenger: Ozil was 'absolutely amazing'

Arsene Wenger has lauded Mesut Ozil for his impressive performance against Napoli as Arsenal ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in their Champions League encounter.

Mathieu Flamini celebrates with goalscorer Mesut Ozil
Ozil was instrumental for Arsenal with a goal and an assist.

Arsenal now top Group F as the only side to have won both matches so far, and the result against the Italian side was never in doubt after the opening 15 minutes saw Ozil and Olivier Giroud on target.

Mangan: Napoli outplayed

Wenger heaped praise on Ozil, who joined Arsenal for a club record £42.5 million in the summer transfer window.

"Ozil's first half was absolutely amazing, fantastic," the manager told Sky Sports. "Collective skill, individual skill, finishing, everything you dream of seeing from the stands.

"The team played not to make a mistake and were a bit more cautious after the break. Overall it's understandable. We were solid and overall it was positive, because I wanted Mathieu Flamini to stop Marek Hamsik on the counter-attack and he did that work very well."

Wenger admitted he could not remember the last time his side played with such panache as they blew in-form Napoli away with a dominant first-half display that was illuminated by Ozil's sparkling opener.

While the Gunners failed to continue that moment in the second half, Wenger was in jubilant mood as he passed his judgement on a thrilling 2-0 triumph for his side.

"Of course Ozil gave a lift to everybody around the club and belief is part of success in football," Wenger said. "We were so lucky to get him here.

"I loved him as well in Madrid, I thought he was great in Madrid and he has integrated very quickly into the team. He came as well in a period where we are doing well and that maybe made it easier.

"Ozil is like the team in many ways in this game. His first half performance was amazing, absolutely fantastic. Everything was in there. All that you dream to see when you come to watch football.

"Certainly at home, that display is one of the best halves we have played for a long time. I would be tempted to say last time we played Barcelona here, but when you play in the Champions League at home, the teams come and try to play as well.

"In the Premier League, most of the time you are against a team that defends, that waits for you, so you have to be patient. In the Champions League, it was a bit more [of an] open game."

Wenger went on to insist his side are capable of winning the Champions League, but he was reluctant to inflate expectations just a few weeks after he came under fire following a tricky start to the season on and off the pitch.

"You know, we got so much stick at the start of the season that I am a bit cautious [to talk up our hopes], but obviously we are here to win this competition," said Wenger. "There is a long way to go, but we have a good basis, we have belief, we have a good spirit, let's just focus on the next game and continue to enjoy playing together."

Wenger revealed the reasons behind his decision to leave Jack Wilshere out on Tuesday, as he preferred to select the returning Mikel Arteta.

"Of course it was difficult to leave out Jack, but I do not want to overload him," he added. "He comes back for a long time, he has given a lot on Saturday, and I decided that [to leave him out] very late today. With him I am a little bit more cautious than I was before.

"You cannot play with 11 players with all the games we have in front of us. It is important that I rotate without losing the balance of the team. When [Santi] Cazorla comes back, [Lukas] Podolski, [Alex Oxlade] Chamberlain, we have of course options in midfield.

"Tonight I played [Mathieu] Flamini and Arteta because Flamini had a job to do on Marek Hamsik a lot, and he did that very well. Napoli are very dangerous going forward on counter-attacking, and I felt we stopped them very well from doing that."

Midfielder Mikel Arteta insists confidence is the key to Arsenal's positive run domestically and in Europe.

"We were playing against a tough team, but we were very intense from the start, good on the ball and played as a team very efficiently," he told Sky Sports. "The clean sheet was really important, almost as much as the goals. We were working really hard and we have great solidarity around the team.

"It's only the early stages and we haven't won anything yet. But there is a lot of hunger around the team and it's nice to win every game, and we want to keep on winning."

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