Özil aims to shoot down Swansea
SWANSEA, United Kingdom - Agence France Presse
Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Özil plays during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates stadium in north London on September 22, 2013. AFP PhotoMesut Özil has pledged to become a more prolific goal-scorer as Arsenal attempt to secure their eighth successive Premier League away victory when they travel to Swansea on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger's side are currently top of the table with 12 points from five games, but they won't kick off at the Liberty Stadium in that position as they are sure to be overtaken by one of Tottenham and Chelsea, who meet earlier in the day.
It has nevertheless been an excellent start to the campaign by a squad that was widely written off following an opening weekend loss to Aston Villa.
Arsenal's fortunes have improved dramatically since then and the 42.5 million (50.5 million euros, $68 million) arrival of Germany midfielder Özil on transfer deadline day has further lifted the mood of a club desperate to end their eight-year trophy drought.
Özil has already shown off his vast creative talents by setting up several goals for his new colleagues, but the former Real Madrid playmaker is keen to get on the score-sheet more often as well.
"I don't want to praise myself too much but I think my statistics are good. I would like to score more goals," Özil said.
The Gunners' lofty league position has surprised many people given that they have not been genuine title contenders for a number of seasons.
And it seems even Özil hadn't fully appreciated the qualities of his team-mates either until he played alongside them.
When asked to pick out the one who impressed him most, he replied: "I don't just want to say one player, I am surprised by the technical quality of the whole team." Arsenal will need Özil to be at his best this weekend, as they will be without a number of injured stars including Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The lengthy injury list has opened the door for previously exiled striker Nicklas Bendtner, who made his first Arsenal appearance since May 2012 when he featured in Arsenal's penalty shoot-out win at West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup third round on Wednesday.
The Denmark forward is unlikely to start at Swansea, especially as first-choice Olivier Giroud has made such an impressive start to the season with five goals so far, but he should make a rare appearance on the substitutes' bench.
Arsenal's winning run of away fixtures began with a 2-0 success at Swansea on March 16 after the Welsh side had previously won at the Emirates Stadium by the same score-line earlier in the campaign.
Michael Laudrup's side have established themselves as a team that can rival Arsenal in the possession stakes and goalkeeper Michel Vorm is expecting a game for the purists to savour.
"Arsenal are also a side who play good football and that is something we try to do," he said.
"If you play against a team like Arsenal, it is always going to be a fantastic match.
"I really think that we and Arsenal are playing some of the best football in the Premier League.
"That is not to say we have to compete to win the title or anything but the way we play, for neutral fans, is a joy to watch."