Mesut Ozil can come good: Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager backs under-performing record signing to deliver in tonight's Champions League clash against Marseille
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed record signing Mesut Ozil to rediscover his best form after some subdued performances in recent weeks.
Ozil hit the ground running after his £42.4 million ($66 million, 50 million euros) transfer from Real Madrid in September, but he has failed to hit the heights in his last few outings.
The 25-year-old playmaker put in a disappointing performance in Arsenal’s 1-0 loss at Manchester United prior to the international break and then sat out Germany’s friendly against England after contracting a virus.
However, with Arsenal on the verge of a place in the Champions League last 16 ahead of tonight’s home game with Marseille, Wenger has backed the former Werder Bremen man to improve.
“First of all, Ozil is a hugely talented player,” Wenger said at his pre-match press conference on Monday. “He has just arrived here three months ago and overall did not have the best of preparations for the league.
Ozil is a young player, 25 years old, so of course there is a lot of room for improvement for him.” Wenger also dismissed suggestions that Arsenal were over-reliant on Ozil’s creative talents.
“We have plenty of players, who can take the ball and play, but because he plays in the central part of the pitch, the ball goes through him,” the Frenchman said.
“However, we don’t put any special responsibility on him. Maybe, he feels a bit more pressure to do that. But we just want the game to be played like we see it and don’t put any special responsibility on him.”
Former Marseille midfielder Mathieu Flamini is available to play against his former club after serving a domestic suspension, while Theo Walcott could feature, after making his return during Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Southampton, following a stomach problem.
However, Yaya Sanogo (back) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (knee) are unavailable, and Lukas Podolski is unfit.
Qualifying scope in Groups E, F, G, H
* Chelsea need just a draw against Basel to qualify for the Round of 16.
* A win for Schalke over Steaua Bucharest coupled with a defeat for Basel against Chelsea will see Schalke through.
* If Arsenal beat Marseille, they progress if Borussia Dortmund lose to Napoli. A draw is enough if Dortmund lose.
* Dortmund could be ousted if they fail to beat Napoli and Arsenal beat Marseille.
* FC Porto must beat Austria Vienna to progress.
* Atletico are through, but Zenit can qualify too if they beat Atletico and Porto lose later.
* Barcelona are through & need a point vs Ajax to top grp.
* Milan qualify if they beat Celtic and Ajax lose to Barca. If Celtic win, they qualify above Milan.