Set to start against Brighton on Sunday in the FA Cup, Arsene Wenger has been speaking about how hard Mesut Ozil has worked to beef up while he was sidelined with a knee injury.
Out of action since October, the playmaker has been sorely missed and on Sunday at the AMEX Arsenal fans will get to see him lineup alongside Theo Walcott from the start for only the sixth time.
Ozil, who has come in for a lot of unfounded criticism during his time in England, took the opportunity of being out of the game to work on his body strength with Wenger revealing that the German World Cup international has been hitting the weights.
Wenger told reporters
“He has worked hard, I think he has taken to the fact that he wants to be stronger.
“You have more time to focus on it. Every day he is in the gym and he can work on it and you don’t have the fatigue of the games. And it’s better when you look in the mirror!
“It is not only down to pure strength when you play football. It is down to when to switch your strength on and the timing of your switch on.
“I know players like Claude Makelele, for instance, were not monsters, but when he went for a challenge he had the technique to use his strength in a very efficient way. It is a technique more than a power.
“A guy who spends a bit of time in the gym kills his co-ordination and becomes more rigid. Winning a challenge is down to flexibility and co-ordination, switching on all the muscles on at the same, right, time. That is not down to lifting weights.”
With the boss now having to decide which of his players plays where, he also spoke about where he sees Ozil fitting into this team.
“I see him behind the striker or on the flank, where he doesn’t like to play.
“I prefer him central. In our team it’s very flexible anyway. When you play on the flank, you can move inside. We usually have one player who is more a winger and another more midfield.
“Özil is a fantastic football player and he will come back very strongly.
“We have some players who are completely fresh and rested. Every game is important and I have to use players who have not played for nearly four months or, in the case of Theo Walcott, for one year. That’s not easy, I have to use them at the right moment.”