Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has told Mesut Ozil he must consistently be available without injury or illness if he is to have a future at the club. The attacking midfielder has won his manager’s approval in training this week and could be back in the side to face BATE Borisov on Thursday.
Ozil, 30, is enduring a difficult season with the Gunners, having appeared in just 14 of their 26 Premier League matches. Injuries and sicknesses have been contributing factors, though when he has been able to play, Ozil has rarely met expectations, prompting Emery to leave him out on several occasions. But ahead of Thursday’s Europa League last-32 second leg against BATE, Emery has been more impressed with Ozil in training, suggesting he could feature. Emery is not getting carried away, however, telling Ozil – who former boss Arsene Wenger suggests is stuck in his comfort zone – that he needs to show this level consistently.
“The key is in his hands. He is working very well this week. I ask him in our conversation for consistency, to be available for us for training. When you can train consistently, you can help us with your best performance in the games. This week has been good for all the players. I am looking at him doing the training like we want. He needs to be available consistently for training, without the injuries, without the sickness,” Emery told reporters on Wednesday.
Arsenal head into Thursday’s game trailing 1-0 from the first leg, and while Emery is urging fans to head to Emirates Stadium in their droves, he is not sure whether to expect a capacity crowd due to the 17:55 GMT kick-off time. “I don’t know [if it will be a big crowd], but we want and we need our supporters,” Emery said. “A big atmosphere for us is very important. After the first result, we must manage the 90 minutes and also know that if we need more minutes, it can be in our mind. It’s important for us to play in our stadium with our supporters. We need support, I hope there will be a big atmosphere for us. With our supporters, I know our players can play.”