Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi has revealed what he asked of Mesut Ozil before netting his side’s opener during yesterday’s North London derby versus Tottenham.
The two clubs went head to head in a Premier League clash at the Emirates, with the home side desperate to get one over on their fierce rivals following persistent talk of Mauricio Pochettino’s men now being the dominant force in North London.
Arsenal came into proceedings on the back of a disappointing 3-1 loss to league leaders Manchester City before the international break, though Arsene Wenger’s side had lost just one of their previous 13 games across all competitions ahead of their Etihad trip.
Tottenham, meanwhile, earned a surprisingly hard-fought 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley in their last fixture, coming on the back of an incredible 3-1 win over European champions Real Madrid.
Many predicted an open derby ahead of kick-off, and that is precisely what fans were treated to from the first whistle.
However, while Spurs were widely expected to take control of proceedings once the early-game adrenaline had died down, it was in fact Arsenal who looked the far superior side, with the Gunners proving uncharacteristically fiery and full of determination.
Their dominance paid off after 36 minutes, after a dubiously-awarded free-kick saw Mesut Ozil plant the ball on Shkodran Mustafi’s head for a brilliant finish in off the far post.
Speaking in an interview following the game, Mustafi was questioned on his goal, revealing that he actually asked fellow countryman Ozil to take control of the set-piece that resulted in his opener:
‘The thing is, as I was going up [Mesut Ozil] was on the other side of the pitch and I said ‘Mesut, please. Go to the ball and bring it in.’
‘I know his left foot and I know his deliveries and if you have players that can put the ball in like that, you go in with belief. That’s the most important thing when you go up for corners and free kicks, the belief that you can score and with the team that we have and the quality that we have, you go in and try to get your head on the ball.’
London is red
Arsenal doubled their advantage just 5 minutes later, as Alexandre Lacazette squared for Alexis Sanchez to smash into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
The hosts carried their stellar showing into the second-half, limiting Spurs to a handful of half-chances and continuing to create plenty of opportunities of their own, with the clash eventually petering out into a deserved 2-0 victory for Arsene Wenger’s men.