Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has praised divisive midfielder Mesut Ozil, admitting that he has been impressed with the German’s attitude since taking charge.
Ozil was restored to the starting XI for Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Boxing Day, repaying Arteta’s faith with an improved performance in the Spaniard’s first game as Gunners’ boss.
Arteta’s post-match comments clearly indicated that he was happy with the contribution of Ozil, who could be given a new lease of life under Arsenal’s new manager.
Speaking after Thursday’s draw, as reported by Sky Sports, Arteta said: “To be fair his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible. I said I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and it was fair as well to give it to him.”
A clean slate is just what the doctor ordered, with Ozil having been overlooked by both Unai Emery and Freddie Ljungberg – the latter sparking an angry reaction from the midfielder after withdrawing him against Manchester City. The German removed and kicked his gloves in an act of frustration, following Ljungberg’s decision in Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat.
Arteta, however, certainly seems to have let bygones be bygones and revealed Ozil’s inclusion against the Cherries was based on his ability to hurt the opposition.
He added: “When we did the game preparation and we were watching the opponents, and where we could hurt them, we believed that he could be a key point. And we prepared the game like this, with him.
“He responded, he did what he had to do and we could have put two or three goals because of him in the net.”
Arsenal face tough tests in their next two Premier League fixtures, as Chelsea and Manchester United visit the Emirates. Given that Ozil has been criticised for big-match performances in the past, he has the ideal opportunity to prove his critics wrong and seal his place in Arteta’s plans for rebuilding the club.