Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Flamini: Ozil can lift us to glory

Mesut Ozil impressed on his Arsenal debut against Stoke
Mesut Ozil impressed on his Arsenal debut against Stoke

Midfielder Mathieu Flamini believes club-record signing Mesut Ozil could prove to be the missing ingredient which helps end Arsenal's long quest for silverware.

The German playmaker was instrumental in the Gunners' 3-1 victory over Stoke at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, having a hand in all three goals as Arsene Wenger's men climbed to the top of the table, ahead of north London rivals Tottenham on goal difference.

Flamini - who was part of the Arsenal team which reached the 2006 Champions League final and rejoined the Gunners earlier in the summer after being released by AC Milan - is in no doubt of what an impact a player of such calibre can add to a squad already full of star potential.

"Eight years without winning anything is not easy for anyone, for the fans, for the players, for the club or the coach, but the quality is here. Maybe it was missing just a few things," said Flamini, who left Arsenal in the summer of 2008 when his contract expired.

"This year it was important that nobody left and then we got new players with a lot of quality and what is most important is the team spirit."

Flamini added: "We knew Mesut was a big player - he proved it at Madrid.

"For us, it is a great boost because he is a great player and knows how to make the difference.

"He has great spirit, he is working hard for the team and can make the difference at any moment."

Flamini believes a new-found steely determination has helped transform Arsenal's early-season form following the disapointment of a 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa on the opening day of the new Premier League season. The victory over Stoke was a seventh straight win in all competitions as Wenger prepares to rotate his squad for Wednesday night's Capital One Cup tie at West Brom.

"We are talking about defending together from the players at the front to the back because the first defender is a striker - Olivier (Giroud), Mesut - everyone on the pitch is doing their job very well," said the 29-year-old midfielder, who first joined Arsenal a promising youngster from Marseille in 2004.

"We know we are strong defensively and that makes a difference because we know with the quality in the team, we will create opportunities and we will score.

"Team spirit makes the difference because the Premier League is not a sprint, it is a marathon. This season is going to be long, we are going to need everyone."

For Stoke, it was a only second defeat of what has been a promising opening to the campaign under new manager Mark Hughes.

"It is still a work in progress and we shouldn't forget that," he said.

"I can see improvements with every game that we play.

"We are playing a different style of football, and in the long term it will help us to progress."

Austrian international Marko Arnuatovic made his first start since arriving from Werder Bremen on transfer deadline day. It was his well-executed volley which crashed against the base of the post and rebounded for United States defender Geoff Cameron to swept in a deserved equaliser for the visitors midway through the first half.

"For the most part, I liked what I saw," said Hughes, whose side travel to Tranmere for their midweek cup tie.

"Marko offers us something different and showed a good work ethic which is important for the team.

"He has integrated very quickly, so I think Marko is going to be a big player for us this year."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre