herald

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Emery tells Ozil to get back in shape and work for his place at Gunners

Mesut Ozil during training
Mesut Ozil during training

Unai Emery has told Mesut Ozil he needs to shake off his minor injuries and illnesses to earn a regular place in the Arsenal 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 yesterday morning ahead of the return leg this evening, 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".

Emery disagreed but did say the player has to train more consistently if he is to be selected in the future.

"First, mostly, the key is in his hand," the Spaniard 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. To be available for us training.

"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."

BATE stunned Arsenal last week by securing a 1-0 lead to defend at the Emirates Stadium, with the Belarusian champions having not played a competitive game since mid-December.

Emery's side will remain heavy favourites to advance given the gap in quality between the two sides - but he suggested he was prepared for a long evening.

"For us this is a very important match," he added.

"After the first result we must manage the 90 minutes and also know if we need more minutes after the 90 minutes it can be in our mind with the preparation to do that.

"It is also very important to play in our stadium with our supporters, and we need their support for this match and I hope there is a big atmosphere for us.

"Together, with their support, I know our players can play and give their all."

The kick-off time for the second leg has been much talked about since the draw - with Arsenal's game shifted to an earlier time of 5.55pm due to a clash with Chelsea's Europa League tie with Malmo at Stamford Bridge.

Having been slated to take place a day earlier, and with a 5.0pm kick-off, the club successfully lobbied UEFA to rethink the issue.

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