Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta says Mesut Ozil can only come back to play times when he can “give his best” on the pitch after he was omitted against Manchester City.
Ozil was surprisingly left out of the Gunners’ squad for Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat to the reigning Premier League champions as the top-flight season resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The former Real Madrid playmaker was not even on an extended bench despite teams being able to name nine substitutes for the rest of the 2019-20 campaign.
Arteta had previously picked the 31-year-old on a regular basis since taking charge and will have no problem recalling him for duty, once he believes Ozil is primed for action again.
“I have been very open with Mesut from day one. Since I joined, I thought that he was fit and he was willing and he wanted to perform at the level he can do,” Arteta told the media on Thursday.
“He has played every game with me, I think. So that it is. The moment I see that he is ready again to do that, I will treat him like anybody else.
“I think I have been more than fair with him, and I think he has responded in many games the way I want. That’s it.”
Asked during the conference call to elaborate on why Ozil was not ready for the City game, the Arsenal boss replied: “There’s a lot that’s happened to him in the last few weeks and I have to respect the time for every player. Sometimes they need a little bit of time.
“It’s been difficult preparation the last two months to get players ready and again. I’m the first one who wants Mesut at the best. I’m going to put him on the pitch when I think he can give his best.”
Ozil himself tweeted earlier in the day, appearing to reaffirm his commitment to the club by posting a photo of him holding the Arsenal badge on his shirt, along with the words: “No matter what…”.
Whether Ozil is involved when Arsenal travel to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday remains unclear.
Arteta has other issues to deal with – Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari were both forced off at the Etihad Stadium due to injuries, while David Luiz was shown a red card after coming on as a substitute – but is pleased to have the chance to play again so soon after the setback against City.
“Every time you lose a football game you want revenge straight away,” Arteta said. “That’s what we want, myself, the staff and the players.
“We need to see how many players we have fit for the game because it was a big hit losing three players in key areas which, at the moment, we are very short in. But we have to adapt.
“We’re going to have a lot of games. We’re going to be playing every three days with the schedule the Premier League has given us today so it’s going to be a challenge.”