Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Arsène Wenger praises ‘excellent’ Mesut Özil on Arsenal return at Watford” was written by Simon Burnton at Vicarage Road, for The Observer on Saturday 27th August 2016 18.10 UTC

Arsène Wenger hailed the impact made by Mesut Özil after the German belatedly kickstarted Arsenal’s season with a performance of real verve and quality in a 3-1 victory at Watford. All of his side’s goals and most of their best moments were compressed into a first half in which Özil, making his first start of the campaign, and Alexis Sánchez were outstanding.

“Özil was excellent, especially in the first half,” he said. “In the second half we dropped physically, but of course we need him. I think what we have seen from him today is what we want of him, assists but also to score goals. That’s what he needed to add to his game.”

With his influence on the game fading Özil was taken off after 70 minutes as Arsenal protected what was by then a two-goal advantage. “Overall I think it was a strong performance, very fluent in the first half,” Wenger said. “In the second we still created many chances, but we are not capable yet to maintain for 90 minutes exactly the same intensity physically.”

Wenger nursed Özil back to fitness having, who confirmed that the Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi and Deportivo’s Lucas Pérez have passed medicals and are set to sign, granted him an extended break after Euro 2016, in which time Arsenal were beaten at home by Liverpool and drew at Leicester. But immediately loses him once again, with Özil named in Germany’s squad to face Finland and Norway.

“I believe we paid a heavy price in our first game because we were not ready, we did not have the players back,” Wenger said. “Now Mesut is nearly ready, not quite, and he goes again. For us the break is not welcome. To reach our best level will take perhaps two more weeks.”

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