Arsène Wenger says Mesut Özil will be just as important as Alexis Sanchez against Manchester City on Sunday.
Wenger was asked about Özil’s current form and fitness ahead of such a big game against the league leaders. Mesut has struggled with a couple of minor injuries this season, but returned to the starting XI with a bang, grabbing a goal and two assists against Everton and Swansea.
Arsène thinks the German is back to his best, saying: “I would say that Özil at the moment is in very good shape physically. People speak at the moment only about Sanchez, but for us [Özil’s] performance on Sunday will be important as well.
“He contributes a lot to the way we play. As well he can be an asset every time we attack because he’s a guy who can create chances. I think he will relish the game. Every big player wants to play big games like this.”
For everything people say about Mesut in the big games, I think Wenger is right that Özil wants to be playing in them. Watching the playmaker’s reaction at the conclusion of last season, when he found out that Arsenal had missed out on the Champions League, he seemed heartbroken. That’s not the reaction of someone who wants to avoid playing important matches.
Özil has helped the Gunners to wins against City before, including in 2015/16 when he assisted twice in a 2-1 win, making the difference between defeat and victory.
Then, in the FA Cup semi-final last season, it was Özil’s free-kick that was headed down by Koscielny for Alexis to score the winning goal.
He may not have got on the scoresheet, but Mesut’s influence has been key to the good results Arsenal have had, and the Gunners will need the same again in Sunday’s match.