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Ferdinand says Arsenal players 'believe' in Arteta and praises influential Ozil

Rio Ferdinand has praised the performance of Arsenal’s players in their 2-0 win over Manchester United on Wednesday, while noticing something in particular about Mesut Ozil.

Arsenal have endured a difficult few months, going into their New Years Day fixture against Manchester United just four points above the relegation places.

However, they put in a very un-Arsenal-like performance, particularly in the first half at the Emirates, storming to a 2-0 lead on a charged night in North London thanks to goals from Nicolas Pepe and centre-back Sokratis.

One man who stood out was Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, the former Germany international winning the ball back more than any other player (10) and covering an impressive 11.53km, the highest of any Arsenal player on the night and his highest total for over two years.

Speaking on BT Sport, Rio Ferdinand commented on Ozil’s demeanour at the end of the game: “Look at that from Ozil, I think that is the first time I’ve seen him smile in 18 months, and that’s because he must be enjoying training.”

While the first half showed Arsenal’s dynamism, the second half saw United come back into the game, though were unable to break down a well-drilled Gunners side, a description rarely attributed to the North London club.

Ferdinand added: “Arsenal showed a discipline we have not seen on a consistent basis and there is a structure which allows players to be confident. They were quicker and they were stronger.”

The former United defender reckons Arsenal’s performance came from having belief in their new manager, Mikel Arteta.

“When you don’t believe in a manager that subconsciously takes the edge off a performance.

“There must have been conversations with individual players where Arteta has said ‘You’re my guy’.”

Read – Arteta thanks Arsenal’s fans after ‘incredible’ 2-0 win over Man United

See also – Eight moments that defined Arsenal and Man United’s classic rivalry