Ozil quality is exceptional, says Wenger
Arsene Wenger says his returning stars will give his side a boost at the perfect time as Arsenal look to claim a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.
Arsenal claimed their fifth victory in six BPL matches with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Mesut Ozil, who has missed three months of the season with a knee injury, had a key role in his first 90-minute outing since October, setting up Olivier Giroud’s opening goal in the eighth minute with a deft flick-on while adding a goal in the second half.
Theo Walcott, in his first BPL start for 13 months, was also on the scoresheet with a nicely worked, counter-attacking goal on 63 minutes and Wenger admitted that the pair still should get better with more action.
"He still lacks a little bit of competitive edge on sharpness but the quality of his game is exceptional and he's getting back now," Wenger said of Ozil. "He worked very, very hard physically and he’s now ready to play again.
"I still think [Walcott] needs more sharpness and contact [challenges from opponents]. He is a very intelligent player, Theo's game is about the quality of his movement, where he gets the ball, where he can be dangerous and when he gets in front of goal he can score."
Asked as to whether Arsenal were hitting form at the right time, Wenger said: "I would say, yes. That shows as well that we have maybe found a better consistency. That will be very important until the end [of the season].
"It shows you as well that when the confidence level is higher and when everybody’s back defensively, it makes a difference. Defensive stability is vital - when you don’t have that, you suffer."
The victory leaves Arsenal in fifth but level on points with fourth-placed Southampton, who were beaten 1-0 by Swansea City on Sunday. With leaders Chelsea drawing at home with second-placed Manchester City on Saturday, Arsenal are six points behind City and 11 adrift of the Blues but Wenger downplayed any talk of whether his side could mount a late title charge.
“It's too early to say that," he said. "We are 11 points behind. That means they [Chelsea and City] need to lose four games and we need to win four. I believe that we should try to be consistent and see what happens."
Villa have gone eight BPL matches without victory and Sunday's defeat leaves them only three points off the relegation zone. They have also gone 612 minutes without a Barclays Premier League goal, the seventh-longest spell in the competition's history. While manager Paul Lambert rued missed chances against Arsenal, especially one from Andreas Weimann late in the first half he was also unhappy with his side's defending.
"The big chance was Andi's [Weimann] header but the 'keeper has made a great save," he said. "Christian [Benteke] had a great chance too. He should have scored. I said before we came here that we'd make chances but you have to take them.
"For about 60-65 minutes of that game, we were well in it. The goals after that were really poor. That's the disappointing thing. I didn't think it was a 5-0 game. But you can't capitulate the way we did to go five-down. We came into the game on the back of a good win last weekend. But to lose the goals the way we did was really disappointing."