Mikel Arteta expects Mesut Ozil to be frustrated by a lack of game time at Arsenal but has reiterated his backing of the playmaker.
Ozil has not played a single minute since the resumption of the season, despite having featured in all of Arsenal’s Premier League games under Arteta prior to the suspension of the campaign in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a news conference previewing Arsenal’s league clash with bottom side Norwich City, Arteta emphasised the German’s importance to his squad after a back injury stopped him from being involved in the FA Cup quarter-final win over Sheffield United on Sunday.
Arteta accepts Ozil is unlikely to be pleased by his turnaround in fortunes but insists the World Cup winner is still a key player for the Gunners.
“I expect a player who is not playing to feel hurt and disappointed,” Arteta told reporters.
“I believe that he is not very happy that he is not playing but as well as that he picked up an injury the other day, so we have to wait and see. I want all of my players at their best and to have the squad as full as possible.
“I know him really well, I played with him. I think he is a very unique player, he has very specific qualities in the way he plays and what he brings to the team.
“I don’t think much has changed, he had to adapt to the league, he needed some time, but he established himself in this league for a long time, something which is not easy to do.”
“We’ve been missing the fans so much. On Wednesday, our first home game, we’re going to miss them so much… We are missing our fans so much and hopefully when they are back, we can give them what they deserve.”
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) June 30, 2020
Arteta also refuted the suggestion Ozil’s reported £350,000-per-week salary could have any bearing on his team selection.
“Never. That’s an agreement that the club were happy to do to move ahead,” Arteta added.
“It’s never the right question – players are paid what they deserve for both parties, it’s not something I have to judge.”
Wednesday’s match with Norwich represents Arsenal’s first match at Emirates Stadium since the season restarted, though with all games now played behind closed doors, Arteta accepts home advantage can no longer be relied upon.
“I think it is more equal, the emotion and pressure is different,” Arteta said.
“It will be the same at the Emirates – we are all getting used to this. The pressure on the players, referees is different.
“It’s a different context and something new for us. To play at home is easier [for travel arrangements], but we are so happy to be back playing. We cannot be too critical.”