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Arsenal's Wenger heaps praise on Özil

Published: Tuesday 1 October 2013, 23.30CET
Arsène Wenger could not hide his pleasure at Mesut Özil's superb showing in Arsenal FC's 2-0 defeat of SSC Napoli, Rafael Benítez ruing that they "started very badly".
by Jamie Reid
from Arsenal Stadium

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Published: Tuesday 1 October 2013, 23.30CET

Arsenal's Wenger heaps praise on Özil

Arsène Wenger could not hide his pleasure at Mesut Özil's superb showing in Arsenal FC's 2-0 defeat of SSC Napoli, Rafael Benítez ruing that they "started very badly".

Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
It was a very enjoyable evening. In patches when we went forward you could see that the third goal was there if we really pushed for it. I think [Mesut Özil] had an outstanding first half. Everything you want from a fantastic player – teamwork, skill, passing, shooting – so just sit there and enjoy it. I loved him in Madrid as well, I must say. We were just lucky to have got him. He has integrated very quickly, he has come during a period where we are doing well, so that maybe made it easier.

I am a little bit cautious but there is a great deal of belief within this team. Certainly at home it's one of the best halves we've played for a long time. I would be tempted to say the last time we played Barcelona away [was the best UEFA Champions League performance] but when you play at home in the Champions League it can be a different challenge. Most of the time it's against a team that defends and you have to be patient. But tonight was a very open game. The group looks very tight because Dortmund won, so the key game will certainly be us against Dortmund in the next match.

I think they maybe suffered in the first half – they chased the ball a lot in the first half and that took a lot of energy out of them. In the second half they didn't give up, but I feel in the last 15 minutes they began to tire. But they are a very good team and the trip to Napoli will be a very tough test for us.

Rafael Benítez, Napoli coach
We started very badly. When you are 2-0 down early in the game against opponents like Arsenal everything becomes very difficult. We played a bit better in the second half but it was difficult to come back. We knew it was a tough game against Arsenal but we still think we can say a word in this group.

I had told the players to be focused from the start because I was expecting Arsenal to start at full pace – but we still conceded twice. Higuaín is a very important player for us, we tried a couple of different solutions to cope without him but didn't manage to score.

We made a few mistakes tonight, I'm not sure if we lacked experience but when you make mistakes at this level you certainly pay for them. However, this is just one game. Now we have to focus on the next Serie A match, we have no time to think too much about this defeat.

I just believe Arsenal started with the right intensity, without any mistakes. We made a mistake early on and conceded a goal. Then we conceded another and it becomes very difficult from there, especially against a top team. It's a great manager with a good team, and the atmosphere in the stadium was really positive for them.

In the second half we did better, we had a little more confidence and we did what we could. When you have a team with this level and this quality it's normal that they can play well, and if they score two goals very quickly then it can be easy for them to play well. Marseille [on matchday three] will be a tough match, but we have to do what we have to do.

Last updated: 03/10/13 0.02CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2014/matches/round=2000479/match=2011786/postmatch/quotes/index.html#wengers+ozil+ovation

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