Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Gunners midfield maestros take Europe by storm

Mesut Ozil says Arsenal’s dressing room is a ‘cool’ place to be after his experience at Real Madrid. There are no egos and no superstars at the Emirates.

This is the new Arsenal, with players forming an exceptional bond as they make serious progress in the early stages of the Barclays Premier League and Champions League.
There is artistry and attitude in equal measure in Arsenal’s midfield — a new threat to the superpowers at Real, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Ozil, Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere are a compelling combination at home and abroad.
Ozil’s first goal for the club, a crisp drive from the edge of the area against Napoli on Tuesday, was an outstanding finish. The celebrations that followed offered another insight into the growing belief that Arsenal are on to something after spending a record £42.5million to sign him.
Ozil’s hair was ruffled as team-mates Bacary Sagna, Olivier Giroud, Ramsey, Gibbs and Mathieu Flamini joined the celebrations. They are happy to have him and Ozil, who was close friends with his German team-mate Per Mertesacker before his move from the Bernabeu, is enjoying the game again.
‘It’s a cool dressing room,’ admitted Ozil on a night when Arsenal won 2-0 with something to spare in their second game in Group F. ‘I felt the trust in me from the start. We are a family and we fight for each other. With that mentality we can only be successful.’
Ozil, with an outstanding record for creating chances with four different Champions League clubs, has inspired this Arsenal team. Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, Real and now Arsenal have all benefited from the German’s ability.
‘He is a step forward, quality-wise,’ admitted Arteta. ‘It was a great message by the club to buy him. People are excited to watch us again.’

Arsenal are emerging from the frustrations of the eight trophy less seasons. The agony cannot continue and when they play as they did against Rafa Benitez’s Napoli, it seems unthinkable that manager Arsene Wenger will go through another campaign without lifting some silverware.
He has knitted this team together, trusting his instincts to give 29-year-old Flamini a chance in midfield. It is five years since the Frenchman left Arsenal for Milan on a free transfer for the promise of a big salary and regular Champions League football.

He has made 45 appearances at the highest level of European club football — 32 matches for Arsenal and 13 for Milan. Flamini has retraced the steps that turned him into one of Arsenal’s most important players during their run to the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2006, and is admired as a fearsome competitor.

Since returning to London in the summer his attitude has been exemplary and he was immense against Napoli. Forming a protective shield alongside Arteta, he helped neutralise the threat of Marek Hamsik, Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne. ‘He’s very intelligent,’ said Arteta. ‘I believe we’ll have a very good understanding. When you get on a good run, everyone is happy. I know how easy this changing room is to fit in.’ Right now, it’s the only place to be in European football.

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