Arsene Wenger says he doesn’t understand why people have questioned whether Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can play in the same side because that’s what good players do.
The German and Armenian combined to great effect in the San Siro on Thursday night with the former setting up the latter for his first goal in Arsenal colours as the Gunners beat AC Milan 2-0.
After a great win, the boss reflected on the manner in which his midfield combined both offensively and defensively.
“When you have a good understanding of the game you can always play together,” he told Arsenal.com.
“That’s a little bit the art of combining, anticipation, technical quality. I never could understand really why good players can’t play together, that’s basically what people have said…if it’s not detrimental to the defensive balance.
“We are a team that wants to express offensive talent so we have to sacrifice as well, when we have not the ball.”
Ozil and Mkhitaryan switching from left to right during the game were ably supported by Aaron Ramsey’s energy in the centre while Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere lay a little deeper to protect the defence. After a run of defeats, the tactics worked well.
“We had a game plan that was based on their positioning on the field and their defensive responsibility, to give us stability.
“I believe they [the midfield] did a great job, from that basis we protected better our defenders, from that basis as well we were dangerous going forward as well.
“We won balls in midfield and that was down to their great work.”
Wenger added: “If you’re a great football player you love to have the ball, but to have the ball you have to win it.
“I don’t see why good offensive players should not be good defensively, one is the consequence of the other.”
It remains to be seen whether Wenger uses the same midfield against Watford. Knowing that his men are only at the halfway point of their Europa League last-sixteen showdown with Milan, there’s a chance the boss could rotate with one eye on Thursday’s second leg.