The World Cup winner drew criticism for his early-season form but his manager has been delighted with his record signing’s desire to return after being sidelined for three months
Arsene Wenger says that Mesut Ozil is “hungry” to impress for Arsenal after an unconvincing start to the season.
The World Cup winner struggled to make an impact during the early stages of the campaign, drawing criticism from some quarters before being sidelined for three months with a knee injury.
But Wenger, who is yet to decided whether or not he will hand the midfielder a place in the starting line-up against Stoke City on Sunday, has been impressed by the German’s work ethic in his recovery.
“What he is is hungry,” Wenger told reporters.
“It was not a convincing start. When you come back having won the World Cup, even if I gave them the holiday they needed, the hunger is a bit artificial.
“You have to be frustrated from competition and slowly get back to realise how much you miss it to come back to normal. I had that before with players.
“He looks hungry – he worked extremely hard to come back. He pushed himself to the limit of what you can absorb physically.”
Santi Cazorla has impressed in Ozil’s absence, with two goals and four assists in his last seven games for Arsenal, and Wenger admits that the returning German will have a fight on his hands for a starting berth.
“It is not easy for him because Santi is playing very well, it’s a fight to get back to his best level,” the Frenchman observed. “It’s a frustrating season for him as he has not contributed yet.
“There is now an opportunity to come back and to contribute to the team.”