Ozil inspires leader Arsenal to 3-1 win over Stoke

BY foxsports • September 22, 2013

Arsenal record-signing Mesut Ozil made a potent impact in his home debut on Sunday, setting up all three goals in a 3-1 victory over Stoke to put his new team top of the Premier League.

After just two games, the Germany playmaker has started to repay the 50 million euros ($66 million) Arsenal paid Real Madrid.

''He gave a lift to everybody at the club,'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. ''The only thing of our position at the moment is that we are in a position where we can focus on improvement in a stable environment.''

Ozil's free kick after five minutes was parried by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and Aaron Ramsey stabbed the ball into the net from the rebound for his seventh goal in as many games.

United States defender Geoff Cameron leveled with his first Stoke goal, striking the rebound into the net after Marko Arnautovic volleyed against the post.

But Per Mertesacker restored Arsenal's lead in the 36th minute by darting in to meet Ozil's corner with a header.

Bacary Sagna was on the end of another Ozil set piece in the 72nd, heading in from the free kick to round off a routine victory.

''When you play against Stoke you don't expect to score three goals from set pieces and that is basically the biggest surprise to me today,'' Wenger said. ''It shows as well how important the delivery is. (Ozil) is a player, when you look at his numbers, the assists are not a coincidence - it's just the reality of his game.

''I believe that once he is completely integrated we'll see even more of him but he has shown today that he is a great player.''

After the despondency at the Emirates Stadium following the opening day loss to Aston Villa, Arsenal quickly put its season on the right track to make a mockery of the early crisis talk.

Arsenal has also started strongly in the Champions League, opening the group stage with a 2-1 win at Marseille on Wednesday.

''I said many times, even when everyone was unhappy, that my job is to make everybody happy,'' Wenger said. ''So when they are, I feel well. But that's just linked with the results so let's keep playing well.''

Sunday hadn't started well, though, for Arsenal. Theo Walcott was named in the starting lineup but was forced to pull out before kickoff with what Arsenal called a minor pelvic and abdominal problem.

''It's a bit mysterious,'' Wenger said.

The winger was replaced by Serge Gnabry, who was thrust into the team after not featuring all season.

But it was Ozil the fans seemed so eager to see on home soil for the first time.

Outside dozens of fans gathered in their Ozil shirts, stretching the supply of umlauts to put over the letter `O' in the club shop.

And inside, after an impressive debut last weekend in the 3-1 win at Sunderland, Ozil justified the club-record outlay as Arsenal celebrated 100 years since moving from south to north London with its fourth consecutive league win.

''The first (half) was fluent, we did well going forward,'' Wenger said. ''In the second half we looked jaded physically and lost our game a bit.

''In the end we lost our technical quality but we have shown again another aspect as well, that we can dig deep and fight when we are a bit under pressure.''

Stoke, though, fell to its second loss in five games this season under new manager Mark Hughes.

''Unfortunately we let ourselves down a little bit today with our work on set-plays, because you never expect to concede three goals from set plays against Arsenal,'' Hughes said.

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