Arsenal boss Unai Emery has challenged Mesut Ozil to rediscover his best form on a sustained basis after seeing him fire the Gunners to Premier League victory at Newcastle.
Ozil’s 58th-minute strike ultimately secured back-to-back away wins in the league for the first time since the 2016-17 season after Granit Xhaka had opened the scoring, with substitute Ciaran Clark reducing the deficit in stoppage time.
Asked if Arsenal would benefit from the former Germany international’s decision to retire from international football, Emery said: “It’s a new way for him.
“We want his performance each training day and in each match and for him to give us his quality. I want also his best performance for us and he worked well at first and had a good match.
“For me, every player is the same. We want to give them confidence and also push them. Today, I am happy because I want every player to have chances to score and he scored today.
“He has to continue helping with his quality and working hard to continue with the performances we want from him.”
Newcastle had the better of the first half but could not test keeper Petr Cech often enough to get themselves in front, and they were made to pay within four minutes of the restart when Xhaka curled home a fine free-kick.
With half-time substitute Lucas Torreira pulling the strings, Ozil doubled their advantage as the Magpies wilted and it was not until a last-gasp barrage that Clark pulled one back.
Emery said: “In the first half, we couldn’t control the match like we wanted and we needed that control to impose our ideas, our possession and our positioning.
“We conceded a lot of chances to counter-attack in transition and a lot of chances from corners and possibilities to arrive into our box.
“In the second half, the balance on the pitch was better. The first goal gave us confidence to continue and improve in the match and the second finished the match.”
Opposite number Rafael Benitez remained in defiant mood after slipping to yet another 2-1 defeat by one of the big guns, having lost to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester by the same score already this season.
Asked if he was worried about a return of just one point from the first five games, he said: “No. I said before, it’s a difficult time because you have to win games, but it’s nothing that we were not expecting, we knew it could be like that.
“The only thing is that maybe against Cardiff, we could have got three points because we had the late penalty. But the reality is that against a top side, you can lose and we have lost by a small margin. That’s the only positive.
“You think that if you do well, you can get points against these teams.”
Benitez lost skipper Jamaal Lascelles at half-time after he had tried to run off a recurrence of an ankle injury sustained during the warm-up, although the extent of the damage is not yet clear.