Mikel Arteta says he’s trying to set up his side to get the best out of Mesut Ozil but made clear he won’t be afraid to bench the German if his numbers drop.
The World Cup-winner was full of deft touches and neat passing as he helped Arsenal dominate Chelsea in a bright first half showing at the Emirates on Sunday.
While the Gunners went on to lose 2-1 in the closing stages, the German left the field on 76 minutes to a standing ovation from the home fans; a stark contrast to their reaction a couple of weeks ago when Ozil skulked off following an ineffective performance against Manchester City.
Arteta hopes his former teammate can continue to make a difference.
Speaking at his post-game press conference, he said: “I put him in the team if I see every day that his attitude, his desire and his understanding of what we’re trying to do is there and he has the will.”
“I am hoping that he can sustain that level every three or four days. He’s put in everything he has to try to do that.
He added: “I think his numbers physically have improved so much, and he’s willing – that’s what I see every day in training.
“I know the ability, I know the player we have there.”
It’s no secret that Ozil had a rocky relationship with former coach Unai Emery who dropped the player regularly, especially away from home, even when his side were crying out for creativity in the centre of the park.
In contrast, Arteta seems determined to give the German the infrastructure he needs to flourish. Assuming he’s delivering the goods.
“The structure has to help him for him to be able to take everything that he has inside,” he said.
“He needs the team to play in a certain way to facilitate and take his strengths more and more in the game. That’s what we are trying to do.”
“If he’s in a better moment than somebody else, I will pick him. The moment that this changes, then he won’t play,” he said.