Heavenly Arsenal goals like Mesut Ozil’s at Stoke are why Arsene Wenger keeps putting himself through Hell

Saturday’s win showed us the best of the Gunners in the shape of an exquisite move that says so much about their manager

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It is testament to Arsene Wenger ’s convictions – and qualities – that even in the worst of times, his teams can produce such sublime football.

At Stoke on Saturday, we saw the worst of Arsenal (or at least someone purporting to ­represent them) with a crass, insulting message flown over the stadium.

And we saw the best of them too… in the shape of an exquisite goal from Mesut Ozil that tells us so much about Wenger, whose ­influence has so informed the club for two decades.

Even Jurgen Klopp, that football purist whose Liverpool team is the obstacle to another top-four finish for the Gunners, has compromised his principles to be more pragmatic in ­recent weeks under the pressure of that ­Champions League pursuit.

Not Wenger.

Wenger danced with delight as Sanchez and Ozil combined for one of the goals of the season (Photo: Getty)

In the face of Stoke’s commitment – and they were still totally committed under Mark Hughes, despite the moans of their fans – Arsenal kept playing , remained pure in their ­principles, and eventually allowed their quality to overwhelm the home side.

The Ozil goal was that quality distilled. It wasn’t as eye-catching as Emre Can’s recent overhead kick for Liverpool against Watford, for instance, but it was pure brilliance.

A through-ball from Alexis Sanchez beyond mere mortals, a take and finish from Ozil also from the Gods.

Afterwards, Wenger spoke so ­eloquently about his own philosophy – and his desire to keep serving it.

Mesut Ozil scores their second goal
Ozil’s glorious control of an inch-perfect Sanchez pass set up a goal… (Photo: Reuters)
…that made it 2-0 to the visitors 10 minutes into the second half… (Photo: PA)
…as they kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive until the final day (Photo: Arsenal FC via Getty)

“I love football, but I love football based on ­intelligence and the technical quality and collective attitude. These kind of goals make you want to work on that,” he said. “It’s important that you try to show the positive aspect of a football game. That’s what I try to achieve.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Those bare words point to a manager who is not leaving. Yet if he remains for another season, as now seems almost certain given reports of a contract ­agreement, then he desperately needs to persuade Sanchez and Ozil to stay.

Sanchez capped the scoring, but did so playing with an injury that then forced him off (Photo: Rex Features)

Of course they want a ridiculous amount of money, but in that one goal, they perhaps prove they are worth it more than the countless hundred-grand-a-week ­journeymen who now ­populate the Premier League.

Sanchez was superb in his ­movement, creating the space which the outstanding Hector Bellerin ­exploited to give Olivier Giroud a tap-in on the stroke of half-time, and then came that audacious second.

Even when sub Peter Crouch punched in (literally!) a reply , ­Bellerin and Sanchez ­combined for a third before Giroud completed the ­exhibition.

For Wenger, it was ­justification of his philosophy, and also an indication of a side that remains ­committed and combined, no matter the outside pressures.

The ‘Wenger Out!’ brigade were in Stoke, but it seems unlikely they’ll get their wish (Photo: AFP/Getty)

“I would say the players have ­responded after a difficult period. We could have gone divided but we have chosen to be united and that’s what you see on the pitch,” he explained.

“Ozil and Sanchez have shown special quality again. But I would say that when the team have had a great performance, these kind of players benefit from it and take advantage of it.

“They knew the challenge ahead. We didn’t play in games as badly as people thought, and we are defensively more stable now. Maybe the structure of the team is stronger.”

Maybe the belief within the squad is stronger too, and that is down to the quiet philosophy of a remarkable ­manager, who still relishes the life of a coach despite the ridiculous pressures aimed at him.

Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news

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