Sat. Oct 24th, 2020

I’ve not seen Ozil smile like that for about 18 months – Ferdinand

2 min read

The Gunners’ German star has continued his recent resurgence under the club’s new manager

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has praised the early influence of new Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta as he guided the Gunners to a 2-0 win over the Red Devils on Wednesday. 

First-half goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos wrapped up Arsenal’s first victory in six games as they rose to 10th in the Premier League. 

Mesut Ozil was once again front and centre for the Gunners, having fallen out of the team under Unai Emery, with Ferdinand noting that he hasn’t seen the player so happy for a long time as he highlighted the positive effect Arteta is having at the Emirates. 

“It’s freshened the place up, it went maybe stale under the previous manager, they maybe lacked belief in the manager’s tactics and his methods,” Ferdinand told BT Sport post-match. 

“We’ve both been there under different managers where you think, ‘I don’t believe in what this guy’s doing’ and that takes an edge off a performance subconsciously.

“The pictures we saw there when the whistle went with Arteta going on to the pitch – I’ve not seen Ozil smile like that for about 18 months. That tells you a story, he’s enjoying going to training, he’s enjoying playing. 

“This kid here [Nicolas Pepe], today he looked like a new player. That comes from confidence with the new manager.”

While Arsenal ended the match with marginally less possession than United, they kept their opponents’ attack comfortably at bay as they showed renewed defensive resilience. 

The Gunners had previously kept just one clean sheet in the league this season and Ferdinand stressed that Arteta’s side are beginning show traits they’ve lacked for a long time. 

“In the performance today we saw a discipline we’ve not seen on a consistent basis from an Arsenal team, there’s a structure, there’s a confidence now starting to brew in this team that comes with goals and games and wins like we saw today,” Ferdinand said. 

“But they were quicker, they were stronger, they were more aggressive, they’re traits we haven’t been able to say about Arsenal for a consistent basis.”

Former Arsenal and United striker Robin van Persie also added that the Gunners look far more content under their new manager. 

“Everyone is happy, everyone is happy for the coach, for Mikel Arteta,” he said. “They played as a team today, with and without the ball. They showed a lot of quality.”

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