Arsene Wenger has tipped Arsenal’s record signing Mesut Ozil to be one of the Premier League’s “great players” this season.
Germany’s World Cup-winning playmaker is likely to go head-to-head with Chelsea star Eden Hazard in today’s Community Shield.
Wenger believes the clash hands the 26-year-old the perfect chance to set the tone for his third campaign at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal boss Wenger has called on Ozil to hit 10 goals a season, expecting the former Real Madrid man to rise to the challenge despite registering just four goals and five assists in last year’s Premier League.
“What I think is that he shows more authority to dictate the game than before,” said Wenger. “He is physically stronger, that is for sure, more equipped to deal with the Premier League and in the second part of the season last year we have seen that intelligence of his passing.
“The fact that he added some steel to his game, that was needed, certainly in the Premier League, and I am confident he can be one of the great players of 2015/16.
“I want more goals from him because he plays in that position and he is a good finisher.
“But he does not take enough chances when he is in the position when he can finish.
“He is conscious of it and he wants to do it now, so I am confident of that. But his main aspect will always be the intelligence of his passing and his creativity.”
Wenger insists this summer has been Ozil’s first chance for a true pre-season with Arsenal – and the long-serving Gunners boss bel-ieves that extended preparation will yield big benefits.
And now that Ozil is settled and acc-ustomed to London life, the Arsenal boss has admitted it is time for his big-money recruit to deliver.
“He looks happy: London transforms people,” said Wenger. “I believe that at the start that for people who come from the south they feel a bit shocked because the climate is different and London is a big city. But after a while London slowly gets people under the charm of the city. Then they start to really enjoy living in London and the club is a bit the same, Arsenal is similar.
Wenger: “It was not a mistake to sign Ozil. You come with me for a week in training & watch him play & you’ll never think I made a mistake.”
— M.A.J (@UltraSuristic) August 1, 2015
“The Premier League is sometimes a shock as well for the players because they think, ‘oh, what’s happening here?’
“I remember when Pires arrived, the first year I put him next to me at Sunderland and I said, ‘you will sit next to me and watch the game’. “After 20 minutes he said, ‘is it always like that?’ And he adapted.
“When Ozil signed he joined very late without any preparation with the team, after in 2014 he came back exhausted by the World Cup.
“He got injured for four months and in the second part of the season he started to really adapt.”
Paris Saint-Germain started the new season on Saturday just as they ended the old, lifting silverware in the shape of the French Champions Trophy thanks to a 2-0 win over Lyon in Montreal.
Two early goals by Serge Aurier and Edinson Cavani put Paris in control of the traditional season-opening contest and left Lyon with a mountain to climb long before their captain Maxime Gonalons was sent off in the 64th minute.
Having completed an unprecedented clean sweep of the domestic honours in France last season, this win underlined their status as the team to beat again in the coming campaign.
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) August 1, 2015
Tipped to be their main challengers once more, Lyon were invited to face the treble winners after finishing second to them in Ligue 1 last season as the Champions Trophy was played outside France for the seventh year in a row.
But, weakened by a series of injuries to key players and by the absence of suspended starlet Nabil Fekir, Lyon never looked like winning a game played in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Saputo Stadium in the largest city of Canada’s French-speaking Quebec province.
A strong PSG side featuring German summer signing Kevin Trapp in goal opened the scoring in the 11th minute as the Lyon defence failed to clear a free-kick into the box and David Luiz drove the ball back into the six-yard box for his fellow defender Aurier to head home.
The second goal arrived just six minutes later when Anthony Lopes saved from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cavani, who started pre-season late after featuring for Uruguay at the Copa America, lashed home the loose ball.
With last season’s top scorer and player of the year Alexandre Lacazette unable to make an impression, Lyon offered little at the other end and Blaise Matuidi missed a great chance to increase PSG’s lead after Lopes saved from Ibrahimovic’s extravagant backheeled effort.
Ibrahimovic, who has been in good form during his club’s pre-season tour of North America as he enters the last year of his PSG contract, fired wide in the second half when finding himself with just Lopes to beat.
And shortly after he was on the receiving end of a Gonalons challenge that saw the Lyon captain pick up a second yellow card and depart for an early bath.
“The mood in the camp is good. It is early days but we have prepared well,” Matuidi told beIN Sports.
— Cyril Daumain (@Kurillos) August 1, 2015
“The season will be long. Now we have spent 18 days abroad and it is difficult, so we are looking forward to going home, seeing our families again and resting before the season starts.”
Fresh from winning a third successive Champions Trophy, Laurent Blanc’s PSG side start their title defence at Lille on Friday, while Lyon will begin the new Ligue 1 season at home to Lorient next Sunday.
Manchester City were beaten 4-2 by VfB Stuttgart in Germany on Saturday in their final pre-season friendly, with only a late flourish sparked by Raheem Sterling rescuing some pride.
The Premier League club's manager Manuel Pellegrini sent out a strong starting line-up, featuring record signing Sterling and with Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and another new recruit, Fabian Delph, the only notable absentees.
But Stuttgart, who only just avoided relegation from the top flight of the Bundesliga last season, found themselves 4-0 up inside 38 minutes at the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Filip Kostic put them in front before Daniel Didavi scored a fine second and Daniel Ginczek added two more past a helpless Joe Hart in the City goal, to the delight of the home fans in the crowd of just over 40,000.
There was an improvement from the English outfit in the second period, however, with Sterling setting up Nigerian teenager Kelechi Iheanacho to get a goal back six minutes from time.
And Sterling was the provider again for substitute Edin Dzeko to make it 4-2 on what could be the Bosnian striker's last appearance for the club with a move to Roma on the cards.
City, who had previously spent time in Australia and played a friendly in Vietnam this pre-season, begin their Premier League campaign against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns a week on Monday.