Unai Emery says Arsenal will only get the best out of Mesut Ozil if the player shakes off the injuries and sickness that keep him out of training sessions.
Despite signing a mega-money contract extension last year, being handed the long-coveted number 10 shirt and being made one of the club’s captains, the German has featured in only 18 games this season. On the terraces and in the press the big question has been, why?
Asked about the situation earlier this week, Arsene Wenger hinted that players can fall into a comfort zone after signing long-term contracts and don’t necessarily train or play their best. When this was put to Emery in his pre-Bate Borisov press conference, the Spaniard hinted that not being available for training has certainly a factor.
Rather than absolve his star man of responsibility, he made clear that the ball is in Ozil’s court, saying:
“Mostly, the key is [in] his hand and he is working very well this week and I ask him in our conversations to be consistent, to be available for us training, when you can train with quality and consistency, it can help us with the best performance after in the games.
“Now, this week is good for all the players, because we are in a big, important moment for the season and I look at him doing the training like we want.
“I know he wants, but we need to be consistent and available in training and the matches without the injuries and without being sick. Like that, we can find and see the best Mesut with us.”
Ozil has played 102 minutes of football in the 10 games since Boxing Day when he delivered an underwhelming performance at Brighton. In 24 hours time, we’ll see if his ‘good’ week at London Colney is rewarded with a start in the Europa League.