Belfast Telegraph

Hutton hails Keane impact

Defender Alan Hutton believes Roy Keane's personality has been key to Aston Villa's impressive start to the Barclays Premier League season.

Hutton reckons assistant manager Keane has added fire to the dressing room since his summer arrival.

Villa are second in the table and host Arsenal on Saturday after opening their campaign with four unbeaten games.

And right-back Hutton, who signed a three-year deal at the club this week, says Keane's famous passion is vital.

Asked by BBC1's Football Focus programme whether the Irishman's temper could be a useful threat, the Scot replied: "I think so. It keeps you on your toes, but you want to perform for yourself.

"You know he'll give you the shot you need to perform and spur you on, it's not a negative thing.

"You just have to look at his career. If there's anything you need to ask he's the man to go to. Just to have a man like that in your corner is unbelievable.

"He's passionate about the game, so if anyone needs to say anything about the game he's the man to do it."

Former Manchester United midfielder Keane arrived in July as Paul Lambert's assistant and has also continued in his role as Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland number two.

Lambert and Keane had not previously worked together but have been long-term friends and Hutton believes that has helped them to quickly develop a close relationship.

"They have worked unbelievably well together - everything has worked and clicked - I don't see why we can't go from strength to strength in the future," he said.

"Roy's done brilliantly for everyone - he's lifted the standard in training and he'll let you know if that standard drops.

"Though there's no doubt who's number one. Everyone knows who the manager is and no one has ever questioned that."

Mesut Ozil must not be used as a ''scapegoat'' for Arsenal's shortcomings, manager Arsene Wenger has insisted.

The German World Cup winner, who is Arsenal's record £42million signing, has come under fire following a couple of uninspiring displays, culminating in the 2-0 Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.

Wenger, though, rejected constant criticism of the 25-year-old, who remains an integral part of his plans.

''Why should he be a scapegoat? For what? We've lost one game since April 1. Let's be realistic,'' said Wenger, whose side travel to Aston Villa on Saturday.

''We have come out of a very difficult preparation period with decisive games. We had very difficult games against Besiktas. I don't know - a scapegoat for what?''

Wenger continued: ''What is difficult to manage is that everybody knows absolutely everything and everybody judges people definitely on one game.

"You have to accept that football is played by human beings who have ups and downs like you have in your life.

''You have plenty of tacticians in the world who have managed zero games. You have to accept their opinion - they might be right, they might be wrong as well. They have to accept that.

''We live in a world where everybody has an opinion and we have to live with that. At the end of the day, somebody always has to make a decision and that's the guy who is responsible.''

Wenger says supporters should not worry about how to get the best out of club-record signing Ozil, who will continue to have a free role within his side.

"(Ozil's best position) is a secondary debate in my opinion because he has freedom to play when we have the ball and go where he wants," said Wenger.

"If you look at the heat map where he plays, you will be amazed where he is all over the pitch.

"We have to find a balance between attacking and defending, that is why it is not an easy subject."

Arsenal expect to have defender Calum Chambers and midfielder Mathieu Flamini available after missing the Dortmund game.

Jack Wilshere's ankle knock is not serious, but the club are still waiting on news of the full extent of the ankle ligament damage suffered by full-back Mathieu Debuchy against Manchester City.

Arsenal are unbeaten in the Premier League, but have now drawn three matches.

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