Monday 16 September 2019

Arsene Wenger convinced Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil love playing for Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, right, were at their best for Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, right, were at their best for Arsenal

Arsene Wenger believes Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil proved their commitment to the cause after they inspired Arsenal to a 2-0 victory over Tottenham.

Arsenal defied their doubters with a breathless performance at the Emirates Stadium as controversial goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Sanchez sealed a derby success.

Sanchez could have added more to his tally while Ozil was influential throughout as his bending cross set up Mustafi's bullet header.

Arsenal's star duo have not extended their contracts beyond next summer but it showed why they each remain crucial to their team's chances of success this season.

Gunners boss Wenger said: "If you have to give me one credit, it's that I've never questioned that - I know them well and I know that when these guys go on the football pitch, they want to win the game.

"They've shown their commitment again today. I've never questioned their commitment.

"They can have bad games but the problem is that, when a player gets near the end of his contract and has a bad game, everybody says it's because he's going. Their interest is to play."

However, Wenger stopped short of claiming that pulsating victories like these might persuade Sanchez and Ozil to stay.

"I've been in this job long enough to know that's not enough," Wenger said.

"The quality of the contract has to be good and enough for them as well. I am convinced that they love the club and they love the team.

"But the whole thing has to be right and they have to be happy. I believe that they love the club, they want to stay, but there are other top clubs out there who offer good contracts as well."

There was a hint of fortune surrounding both of Arsenal's goals.

Mustafi's first came from a dubious free-kick, awarded by referee Mike Dean for the slightest of shirt-pulls from Davinson Sanchez, while Alexandre Lacazette was just offside in the build-up to their second.

But few could argue with the result as Arsenal beat Tottenham at their own game, playing aggressive, physical, high-octane football their opponents were unable to match.

"I think we played with purpose, good concentration, the desire to always be efficient and with great solidarity," Wenger said.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, who took off Harry Kane and Dele Alli in the second half, felt aggrieved by Dean's decisions, which he believes defined the game.

"Until we conceded the goal the team was doing well, we were better than them. It was even," Pochettino said.

"But it is two mistakes for the goals. It wasn't a foul and then the clear offside. In that moment your plan changes."

Kane was wearing a bandage around his right knee but he and Alli were both able to start, despite pulling out of last week's England squad due to injury.

Danny Rose, who played in both of England's friendlies, was a curious omission, the left-back not even named on the bench.

Pochettino said: "A player can be fit and play regularly but when you have 10, 11 months out and then you start to play, sometimes the decision is better to train and prepare to the next game than being on the bench and maybe not play and wasting time."

PA Media

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