Özil inspires leader Arsenal to 3-1 win over Stoke
LONDON - The Associated Press
Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Özil (L) runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match against Stoke City at the Emirates stadium in north London on Sept. 22. AFP photoArsenal record-signing Mesut Özil made a potent impact in his home debut today, setting up all three goals in a 3-1 victory over Stoke to put his new team top of the Premier League.
After just two games, the Turkish-origin German playmaker has started to repay the 50 million euros Arsenal paid Real Madrid.
"He gave a lift to everybody at the club," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Özil's free kick after five minutes was parried by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and Aaron Ramsey stabbed the ball into the net from the rebound.
United States defender Geoff Cameron leveled with his first Stoke goal, striking the rebound into the net after Marko Arnautovic volleyed against the post.
But Per Mertesacker restored Arsenal's lead in the 36th minute by darting in to meet Özil's corner with a header.
Bacary Sagna was on the end of another Özil set piece in the 72nd, heading in from the free kick to round off a routing victory.
After the despondency at the Emirates Stadium following the opening day loss to Aston Villa, Arsenal quickly put its season on the right track to make a mockery of the early crisis talk.
Today hadn't started well, though, for Arsenal. Theo Walcott was named in the starting lineup but was forced to pull out before kickoff with what Arsenal called a minor pelvic and abdominal problem.
"It's a bit mysterious," Wenger said.
The winger was replaced by Serge Gnabry, who was thrust into the team after not featuring all season.
But it was Özil the fans seemed so eager to see on home soil for the first time.
Outside dozens of fans gathered in their Özil shirts, stretching the supply of umlauts to put over the letter 'O' in the club shop.
And inside, after an impressive debut last weekend in the 3-1 win at Sunderland, Özil justified the club-record outlay as Arsenal celebrated 100 years since moving from south to north London.