The former Gunners midfielder believes the German has adapted to the Premier League, and is also eagerly anticipating Alexis Sanchez’s first campaign at the Emirates
By Rahul Bali
Freddie Ljungberg has backed Mesut Ozil to have an “amazing” season for Arsenal after a difficult first year in the Premier League.
Ozil started with a flourish following his €50 million move to the Emirates Stadium from Real Madrid last summer, but faded as the campaign progressed and came in for criticism after missing a penalty in a below-par performance against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
However, Ljungberg, who was part of the Arsenal side that won the Premier League in 2002 and 2004, believes the German World Cup winner will have now adapted to the rigours of English football ahead of the start of the 2014-15 season.
“In general the Premier League is the hardest league to come to physically,” the former Sweden international told Goal as part of PUMA’s Arsenal kit launch. “It’s a lot different than the other leagues.
“I have seen that with a lot of players, that they start well and then they get a little bit of tired because in England, you get tackled in what would get you free kicks in most other leagues, and that can be hard for technical players.
“Maybe that’s what hit Ozil a little bit at one stage. But now, he is used to – accepts – that English football is not the same as what you get in Spain.
“I think he is going to be amazing this season. But often it takes a season for any player to adapt to the Premier League.”
Arsene Wenger signed Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona in a €40m deal this summer, to the excitement of the Emirates faithful, but Ljungberg is wary of putting the weight of leading a Gunners title charge on the Chilean’s shoulders.
He said: “I don’t think we need to put the pressure [on] that he should lead us [Arsenal] to the title as there are a lot of other great players in the squad.
“I saw him personally when he played in South Africa at the 2010 World Cup and I loved him then. He played well for Udinese and was voted the best player in Italy. Then Barcelona took him.
“I’m really happy that he is at Arsenal because he goes straight at players. I don’t know if you saw the game at the weekend [against Manchester City] but we had a quicker transition from the defense to attack and that’s a lot easier to score goals.
“I was really pleased with that and I hope that continues.”