Mikel Arteta sets challenge for Mesut Ozil to regain Arsenal first team place

Arsenal FC v Newcastle United - Premier League
Mesut Ozil has not played for Arsenal since the return of football (Picture: Visionhaus)

Mikel Arteta has challenged Mesut Ozil to show he is at his best and ready to be selected, insisting the German is a ‘special player’ and can contribute for Arsenal.

Ozil has not played since the resumption of football after the coronavirus crisis, with little explanation as to why he was not even on the substitutes’ bench against Manchester City in the Premier League on 17 June.

Arteta insisted that was a tactical choice, which few people believed, while Ozil is now sidelined with a reported back injury.

The Gunners boss expects the former Real Madrid man to be upset that he has not been on the field, but insists he can only pick players who are ready to perform.

‘I’m expecting a player that is not playing to feel hurt and disappointed,’ said Arteta ahead of Arsenal’s home clash with Norwich on Wednesday.

‘I believe that he is not very happy, because he’s not playing but as well he picked up an injury the other day and we have to wait and see how he evolves.

‘I want all my players at their best and to have the ability to be able to pick them to help the squad as much as possible and that’s the only intention I have.’

Arteta and Ozil played together for Arsenal in the Spaniard’s final three and the German’s first three seasons at the club, so they know each other very well.

The manager knows what the 31 year old can bring to the team but there are clearly doubts over whether he can get the best out of his talents.

‘Mesut has unique qualities,’ Arteta continued. ‘He is a very special player for the position he plays, how specific he is in the qualities that he has and what he can bring to the team.

‘I know him really well because, as you said, I played with him. I don’t think much has changed [from when he joined Arsenal back in 2013].

‘Obviously he adapted to the league and he needed some time but he started to perform pretty quickly and he established himself in this league for a long time, something that is not easy to do.’

Ozil’s back injury, which kept him out of the FA Cup win over Sheffield United at the weekend, is being assessed and could feature against Norwich on Wednesday, but a start seems extremely unlikely.

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