LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 21 – Arsenal manager Unai Emery has told midfielder Mesut Ozil he needs to shake off his minor injuries and illnesses to earn a regular place in the side.
Ozil missed last week’s Europa League round of 32 first-leg defeat to BATE Borisov as he was still feeling the effects of a sickness bug, with Emery opting to leave Arsenal’s highest-paid player at home.
The 30-year-old trained on Wednesday morning ahead of the return leg on Thursday, where the Gunners will be looking to overturn a 1-0 loss in Belarus.
Emery has faced questions on an almost-weekly basis about the former Germany international after taking the decision to drop him from the team on several occasions.
Ozil’s performances have tailed off in recent times, with ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger questioning whether his new, club-record contract had left the player in the ‘comfort zone’.
“First, mostly, the key is in his hand,” Emery replied when Wenger’s opinion was put to him.
“And he is working very well this week. I ask him in our conversations to be consistent.”
Emery however did say the player has to train more consistently if he is to be selected in the future.
“When you can train with regularity, consistency, you can help us after in the games.
“Now I think this week is good for all the players because we are in an important moment for the season.
“He needs to be consistent, be available for training, for the matches. Without the injuries, without being sick. Like that, I think we can see the best Mesut with us.”