Published September 21, 2013
LONDON (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has attempted to play down the expectations surrounding Mesut Ozil ahead of the Germany international's eagerly anticipated home debut against Stoke City on Sunday.
The deadline day arrival of Ozil from Real Madrid for a club record ??43 million ($69 million) provided a huge lift to the north London side.
And the playmaker made an immediate impact, taking just 11 minutes to set up Olivier Giroud's opening goal in the 3-1 victory at Sunderland last time out.
Ozil's first appearance suggested he'll slot into his new surroundings easily, but Wenger insisted it takes time to adjust to the Premier League.
"I think he is not at the top physically yet," Wenger said.
"Overall we are very pleased to have him with us, but he will demand a bit of time to adjust to the vigorous body challenges he will face in the Premier League. Once he has done that, he will be even stronger."
Victory at the Stadium of Light made it six wins in a row for the Gunners since their opening day home defeat by Aston Villa -- a run that has seen them qualify for the Champions League and taken them towards the head of the domestic championship.
And while Ozil's arrival has dominated events at the Emirates Stadium, the form of Giroud has been one of the main factors in Arsenal's progress.
The France international has scored five times already and after a pre-season in which the club was repeatedly linked with a new forward, Wenger believes Giroud deserves credit for his response.
"Every day when you opened a newspaper he saw another striker coming here but he didn't say anything," Wenger explained.
"For me that's the best answer you can give when you're a football player. Don't talk too much, play and show how good you are. Many people forget that sometimes but that's the core of your job."
Meanwhile Stoke manager Mark Hughes has saluted fellow Welshman Aaron Ramsey for his stunning start to the season at Arsenal.
It was Potters captain Ryan Shawcross's challenge on the Arsenal player three years ago which left Ramsey with a broken leg.
However the midfielder has finally looked to have put the incident behind him this term, having already found the net seven times for club and country.
"I'm really pleased for him," said Hughes, a former Wales manager. "He's an outstanding player and is playing really well. He has added goals to his game and turned it round.
"I probably watched Arsenal last year more than most and he was struggling for a bit of form and the crowd sometimes lost patience with him. For him to show the courage to get his performance levels high, full credit to him.
"The business with Ryan Shawcross was a long time ago and everyone acknowledges it was unfortunate that a player was badly injured. It was not intentional," Hughes insisted.
"It's unfortunate the matter gets brought up every time Stoke play Arsenal. Thankfully, the boy has been able to get back to an even higher level."
Hughes has also backed Kenwyne Jones to improve his team's scoring record, which stands at just three league goals despite Stoke claiming an impressive seven points from their opening four matches.
"Kenwyne is doing really well and giving me good presence at the top end of the pitch," Hughes said. "All that's lacking is goals in the Premier League.
"If we continue to create chances, he will take some because he's one of those players who scores one and then scores more. I'm sure he will score goals for me."