Thursday 27 October 2016

'Ozil works harder than people think'

Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal

'Ozil was the stand-out player, dictating the visitors’ attacks with a number of exquisite passes'
'Ozil was the stand-out player, dictating the visitors’ attacks with a number of exquisite passes'
Francis Coquelin

Arsene Wenger hailed a superb display from Mesut Ozil in Arsenal's 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace and believes the win can be a turning point in the Gunners' season.

Olivier Giroud's stunning volley and a Damien Delaney own goal ensured Arsenal bounced back from their opening-day defeat to West Ham and registered their first three points of the campaign at Selhurst Park.

Giroud's strike was the most eye-catching moment in the match but it was Ozil who was the stand-out player, dictating the visitors' attacks with a number of exquisite passes.

"It is a pleasure to watch the quality of his passing and the intelligence of his passing," Wenger said.

"What I want from him is a few more goals this season. For the rest of the build-up in the game he was magnificent. He works harder than people think he does. He is not spectacular in his defending but he wants to do the job, he wants to help the team.

"What I liked in his game today was he made many runs without the ball behind the defenders which is a bit new as he likes to come with the ball but today he mixed up his game better."

Arsenal have not lost to Palace since October 1994 but Alan Pardew's side offered a stern test and looked capable of earning a point when Joel Ward drove home an equaliser just before the half-hour mark.

Wenger said: "I'm sure they will beat many strong teams here and to get the three is already a little bit of a turning point for us. To lose today would have been a big blow mentally."

Wenger added: "We have shown our strong response and we have shown different aspects in our game that are vital in the Premier League."

Arsenal were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men after Francis Coquelin twice managed to avoid being given a second yellow card from referee Lee Mason.

Coquelin could have been sent off when he pushed Wilfried Zaha to the ground at the end of the first half and he avoided a second yellow again for a clumsy challenge on James McArthur in the second period.

Wenger eventually substituted the midfielder but the Frenchman insists Mason made the right decision not to send his player off.

"He didn't deserve a (second) yellow card. The pressure was on to get him sent off," Wenger said.

"He put his hands on his head because he thought it was not a free-kick, not because he thought he would be sent off.

"Every time he intervened, the crowd were behind it and put the pressure on the referee. I didn't want to take him off but I didn't have much room."

Palace boss Pardew said he understood the referee sparing Coquelin the first foul before half-time, but believes the midfielder should have been dismissed after bringing down McArthur.

"I had a chat with Lee in the tunnel (at half-time) and we agreed that he shouldn't have been sent off - you don't want that," Pardew said. "But I said 'that's his last chance, he can't afford to make another challenge', and he did. But (Mason) didn't make the call. He should have been sent off."

Palace enjoyed sustained pressure as they chased a late goal but the Eagles' struggled for penetration with the usually dynamic trio of Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha all below par.

"My exuberant players are just below their levels, in my opinion," Pardew said.

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