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The day after his 27th birthday, Olivier Giroud enjoyed the best of celebrations by scoring one and helping set up the other as Arsenal FC defeated SSC Napoli 2-0 to take command of UEFA Champions League Group F.
Perhaps the biggest gift of all for Giroud and Arsenal, though – according to the Frenchman – has been the arrival of Mesut Özil who claimed his first Gunners goal and teed up Arsenal's second in another terrific performance. "I think he was the man we needed to really improve our side," Giroud told UEFA.com.
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal forward
We knew the quality of Napoli so we did really well from the start of the first half and succeeded in scoring twice. At half-time we wanted to keep it up and managed to keep the ball and play our game. We are really proud of our first half and the whole game and we deserved it, I think.
The team is playing well and we are on a good run. Mesut especially tonight was unbelievable. It is really simple to find him on the pitch and I have a really good understanding with him. He [provided] the assist for my goal. He knows [to do] the right thing at the right moment. This is his first goal, but he has provided a lot. I think it was his fifth or sixth assist since he joined. He was the man we needed to really improve our side.
Since the start of the season I maybe have more confidence and I am settling well now, in the team and in my new English life. I feel really good on the pitch and really want to improve myself and the team. We took a lot of pleasure [from the performance] and that is the most important [thing]. We always want to win and to keep this mentality of winning every game. [Borussia Dortmund] will be really tough games for us but we are really confident and if we keep it up, I think we could do good things in this Champions League.
Mathieu Flamini, Arsenal midfielder
It is going well for me on and off the pitch. We are doing well, so I'm delighted. We knew that Napoli are a good team who are doing well in the league with excellent players. But we had an excellent match and managed to score those two goals.
In Italy the football is different, more closed tactically, whereas here it is more open, plus we have a very good team. I play defensive midfield here and have to protect the defence and it is going well. I wanted to play in a different championship and play with great players such as [Paolo] Maldini and other European and world champions. I won the league there [in Italy with AC Milan], but then I came back to my old team and I'm happy with that.
Valon Behrami, Napoli midfielder
We all knew that when you give away two goals to Arsenal at their home ground, it makes things even harder and is likely to make the result as bad as it can be. We had a very poor first half and then in the second half we pulled ourselves together. We stuck together and gave ourselves something to focus on, even if the result was not good for us.
It is normal that when you play away from home in the Champions League, you will come up against a really tough team, but we really didn't expect to play that badly. Next we have two decisive matches against Olympique de Marseille and they will crucial to us qualifying. We have had one good match and one bad match, so let's not get carried away. Let's stay calm and get back to playing in the league on Sunday.
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