One of the first tasks facing Mikel Arteta at Arsenal is solving The Mesut Ozil Conundrum, but the new manager may have an advantage having played with the enigmatic playmaker at the Emirates.
Ozil lost his way after falling out of favour under Unai Emery but was praised by Arteta following the new boss’ first match in charge of the Gunners.
We’ve taken a look back at what Arteta had to say about Ozil when the duo were team-mates at the Gunners.
A lift to everyone
“It was a great message from the club because everyone was really expecting a top, top player, probably a striker rather than a No.10, but in the end we got an amazing player and that gave a lift to everyone, not only us but you can see the people are excited again to come and watch and that makes a big difference,’ Arteta said in October 2013, shortly after Ozil joined the club.
“A player like Ozil gives you a step forward quality-wise and gives you another player on the pitch who can decide the game for you. He proved again that he is able to do it and that’s always great. The more players you have like that, the better chance you have.”
“What I like most about Mesut is that he’s said to himself ‘I’m the man, I can hold the pressure and when the team needs me, I’m here to help us win the game,” Arteta wrote in his programme notes after Ozil created nine goalscoring opportunities in a win over Bournemouth in December 2015.
— AFCMikel (@AFCPW) December 26, 2019
He’s been missed
“He’s very important for the team,” Arteta told Sky Sports in April 2014 after Ozil had missed Arsenal’s last six matches through injury. “He’s been missed while he’s been injured.
“We’ve been missing very important players through a very important period of the season. I’m really pleased to have people like him back in the team and performing at the top because that’s what we need.”
“When you have players like Ozil with everything he involves — his price, his personality — people will either love him or not like him at all,” Arteta told the Daily Mail in September 2014.
“When you’re an artist, you’re never going to perform nine out of 10 every week. It’s much more difficult for a creative player to perform at that level.
“The opposition always try and stop you, so sometimes you don’t shine. And then people ask, “Why don’t you shine? You didn’t do anything in the game.’
“When that happens you get criticised, especially when it happens in big games. But you cannot deny Ozil is a special player: his movement, his calmness, his final ball is superb.”