BIRMINGHAM - Arsene Wenger insists he never thought about dropping Mesut Oezil, after the Germany midfielder finally delivered a dominant display in Arsenal's 3-0 victory against Aston Villa.
Oezil produced a fine finish to open the scoring from Danny Welbeck's pass. The England striker then scored his first Arsenal goal two minutes later, after his teammate returned the favour.
Aly Cissokho's own goal made it three goals in four minutes for the rampant Gunners, but it was the influential Oezil who stole the spotlight at the end of a week in which Wenger had to field questions about the former Real Madrid star's poor form following a 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Oezil has been well below his best for much of his first year with Arsenal, following his club record £42 million (S$87 million) switch from Real, but Gunners boss Wenger was adamant he was always certain the playmaker would come good.
"I never considered leaving Oezil out," said Wenger, as Arsenal won for only the second time in the English Premier League this season on Saturday.
"I have many offensive players and we look to always find the right balance, it's not always easy. I gave (Alexis) Sanchez a rest as he has played many games.
"We have plenty of experienced players who do not play at the moment who are top quality.
"But it was the point where we had to show Oezil confidence was there. He showed as well he can perform when under scrutiny.
"It's always a very sensitive point if you leave them out, you never know how they will respond. Oezil wants to play in the middle, but I have 10 others who want to play there too."
Welbeck has arrived at the Emirates Stadium with a big price tag following a £16 million move from Manchester United, and Wenger was delighted to see him open his account.
The manager said: "It was a very good performance, he kept the ball well. His all-round performance was very good for a centre forward.
"I was very pleased he's scored a goal (so quickly). Knowing the media, it was very important for him to score."