Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger has backed his record signing Mesut Ozil to return to his best as he begins to deal with expectations and pressure.
Mesut Ozil’s arrival at the start of this season turned around Arsenal’s fortunes and the most importantly lifted the atmosphere in the dressing room and among the fans. But after making a fairly good start to his Arsenal career, the German international has faced a lot of criticism from fans and experts alike recently, following some insipid performances. His commitment and endeavour on the pitch has been questioned, while his inability to deliver in big matches has been highlighted – often unfairly. Big price tags bring along big expectations and that is what Mesut Ozil has had to deal with off late. Moreover, the former Real Madrid star has looked jaded in the last few games as he has clearly struggled to adjust to the busy schedule and physical nature of the league.
Ozil, who has so far played in leagues which has winter breaks, has had to adjust to a busy fixture list in the festive periods and the midfielder has hardly had any rest since his arrival. It takes time for foreign players to cope up with such heavy demands and Ozil is no exception. Arsene Wenger rested the German international during the Gunners’ last league game against Sunderland. Although the official reason provided for his absence was a dead leg, it was apparent the Wenger was desperate to rejuvenate his star man as Arsenal gear up for another heavy fixture list. Providing a break to Mesut Ozil was urgently needed and this is expected to reflect on his performance against Stoke City, although the fans won’t complain if Wenger choses to start him on the bench in this game as well.
Arsene Wenger has accepted that Ozil has gone through a difficult period recently, but he is confident that the playmaker will adapt to his surroundings quickly.
“It is difficult for him mentally to be confronted with that pressure every three days and in every single competition. But he will adapt.
“Maybe he feels that (record signing tag) a bit in a different way than I do. I just want him to enjoy it and play well.
“He has gone a little bit through a difficult time. It can happen to anybody. So have others in the past, and so I don’t worry about Ozil.” – The Arsenal manager said.
The Frenchman has also urged Ozil not to put too much expectation and pressure on himself on the pitch.
“He shouldn’t do that. It’s down to the performance of the team. I never tell him, ‘You have to win us the game’.
“He’s all right. He loves to play. You give him a ball, he’s happy. That’s the most important thing. And he has the quality, so I don’t worry.
“We have the experience to do that: you have always to be behind your players. The best way is to show him support.” – Wenger added.
Having Ozil back to his best will be critical for Arsenal as they head towards the business end of the season. Arsenal are well in reach of ending their trophy drought this season, especially in the league and the FA Cup, and if Ozil can reproduce his early season performances, it will surely carry the Gunners over the line.