Mesut Özil missed Arsenal’s first home Premier League game of the season against Burnley because of illness.
The German midfielder missed the Gunners’ opening day victory against Newcastle due to safety concerns – he and teammate Sead Kolasinac were victims of an attempted carjacking by an armed gang – but it was expected that Özil would return to the squad for Saturday’s game at the Emirates.
But in the lead up to the game, manager Unai Emery hinted that Özil may not feature at the weekend because he had missed training through illness, even though he and Kolasinac were ‘100%’ ready to play after their traumatic ordeal.
The 30-year-old has often been ridiculed for his weak immune system, with a number of unexplained absences from Arsenal’s match day squads subsequently attributed to a virus of some kind.
As a result, he has become a focal point of some supporters frustrations, particularly when the Gunners are away from home. Furthermore, Özil has added insult to injury (literally) by causing himself back issues by spending disproportionate amounts of time playing the popular video game Fortnite.
There’s nothing to suggest that Özil’s absence from this particular game is anything but genuine, but this, his tenth period of illness since joining the club, latest absence will potentially rile supporters who do not feel he is worthy of his status as the club’s highest paid player.
Recent events may be taken into account, though, with Özil and Kolasinac’s ordeal subject of an ongoing police investigation. Security has tightened around the pair in the wake of the recent trouble, with both players now looking to get back on the field and get concentrating on their football.
On the pitch, Arsenal have made the perfect start to this Premier League campaign – following up their opening day success over Newcastle with a narrow 2-1 win over Burnley, putting them top of the table, albeit briefly.