Arsene Wenger praised Mesut Ozil following his match-winning volley against Newcastle and said he is “confident” the Germany international will sign a new deal at Arsenal.
The 29-year-old World Cup winner struck a perfectly-hit effort to seal an uncomfortable 1-0 victory for the Gunners, who laboured to a first Premier League win of December.
Newcastle, without a league win of their own since October 21, battled valiantly but their pursuit of a deserved point at the Emirates Stadium was let down by profligate finishing and a smattering of bad luck.
Wenger, whose side had drawn with Southampton and West Ham following defeat at Manchester United this month, said on Friday his players were still suffering from the after effects of that United loss.
That showed again here but they would end the day with three points courtesy of a piece of magic from Ozil at the midway point of the first half.
“It’s superb, he can deliver that,” Wenger said of Ozil’s volley.
“It’s important for him that he takes the risk to do what he did. Usually he is a guy who, 99 per cent of the time, in this position, he controls the ball and gives it to somebody else.
“So I’m pleased he took the gamble to finish and I’m happy as well that he scored a very important goal.”
Ozil is out of contract at the end of the season and can talk to foreign clubs from the start of next month with a view to walking away from Arsenal for free in the summer.
Wenger has insisted the club will not cash in on the former Real Madrid man in the January transfer window and said after the win over the Magpies that he remains hopeful that Ozil can be tied down to a new deal.
“I’m confident, yes, but what does that mean? I don’t know,” he answered somewhat cryptically when asked whether Ozil will stay.
Newcastle have struggled in recent weeks and were well beaten by Manchester United, Chelsea and Watford before losing 3-2 at home to Leicester last weekend.
While takeover talks rumble on, manager Rafael Benitez continues to be backed by the Newcastle fans, even though their poor run has seen them drop into the relegation zone.
The Spaniard again praised the travelling support, who sang his name for much of the contest as he once more pointed to a lack of summer signings as the reason for their recent struggles.
“This team is still fighting and our fans could see that,” he said.
“The fans knew what happened in the summer and we are working hard to put things right. We have to learn quickly.
“You can’t complain about the work-rate of our players. They gave everything. We are where we are and have what we have.
“We are a team that came from the Championship and where we are now could be expected. We must stay calm.”