Wenger: Ozil can get even better
Arsenal boss backs talented playmaker to improve with age
ARSENAL will soon see the best of club-record signing Mesut Ozil, according to manager Arsene Wenger.
The £42.5m deadline day arrival from Real Madrid has returned somewhat subdued performances in recent weeks, and was rested by Germany for their recent internationals.
Nevertheless, Ozil will again be at the heart of the Gunners when they tackle Marseille in the Champions League tonight, where victory could see them qualify for the knockout stages.
Wenger has every confidence the 25-year-old's quality will come through what has been a testing period of transition.
"Ozil is a hugely talented player," said Wenger.
"He has just arrived here three months ago and overall did not have the best of preparations for the (Premier) League.
"Ozil is a young player, so of course there is a lot of room for improvement."
Wenger maintains there is no extra special demands placed on the playmaker, who arrived in a wave of publicity and scored a superb first goal for his new club in the 2-0 Champions League win over Napoli on October 1.
"We have plenty of players who can take the ball and play, but because he plays in the central part of the pitch the ball goes through him," Wenger said.
"However, we don't put any special responsibility on him. Maybe he feels a bit more pressure to do that.
"But we just want the game to be played like we see it and do not put any special responsibility on him because everybody in our team can deliver great balls."
Arsenal produced the needed response after the international break, when they recovered from the defeat at Manchester United to beat a well-organised Southampton team at the Emirates Stadium – albeit with more than a little help from a blunder by visiting keeper Artur Boruc.
The Gunners are also well placed to now progress through to the last 16 in Europe following their 1-0 smash-and-grab raid on Borussia Dortmund earlier this month.
Any hope of Marseille extending their own European campaign, however, disappeared following a fourth-straight Group F defeat in Napoli, where they went down 3-2 on Matchday Four.
Wenger, though, maintains their European results to do not tell the whole story for Elie Baup's team.
"They have quality, they are in a better period at the moment because they won their last two games and that makes them a dangerous team to play against," the Arsenal manager said.
"The quality of our concentration and focus will be vital."
Should Dortmund draw at home with second-placed Napoli and the Gunners beat Marseille, then it would put the English side through and mean last season's Champions League runners-up would have to be content with dropping down into the Europa League.
That would leave Arsenal to fight it out with Napoli to secure top spot and, with it, seeding for the knockout stage.
"We know that tomorrow is a very big game in that final stage of the qualifiers. We have an opportunity to do it at home," said Wenger.
"You say 12 points may not be enough, it is true, but it might as well be enough and maybe already tomorrow, so let's get the 12 points."