Mesut Özil says the support of the Arsenal fans online and offline has kept him going through this tough period, and he’s holding out hope he can give back.
Pretty much every Arsenal fan will be aware of Özil’s situation by now. The German has been excluded from Unai Emery’s last three matchday squads, making just two appearances on the pitch this season so far.
Part of that, at the very start of the season, was due to the aftermath of an attempted robbery involving Özil and Kolasinac. It’s been a while since then though, and the playmaker just hasn’t been able to get back into the team.
Speaking in an interview this week, Özil admitted it hasn’t been easy, but he says the support he has from family, friends and the Arsenal fans has helped get him through.
“I had some tough times when I was younger and that helps me in periods like this because I’m mentally so strong and can deal with it,” Özil said (via The Athletic).
“I have the support of my family and friends, and also whenever I don’t play or things are not great, look at how the Arsenal fans react. They make me feel amazing.
“When I go out in the street, when I’m at the stadium, when I look on social media or in my post at home, the supporters tell me, ‘We’re all behind you’, ‘You’re one of us’, ‘Keep strong’, ‘You’ll get your chance’.
“I’m very thankful. It keeps me happy, focused and patient to wait for my chance. I remember in 2014 when I hurt my knee — the first bad injury of my career — the fans never stopped supporting me.
“Even the songs they wrote, I’ve not had that anywhere else and that backing is important to me.”
The problem is that it’s hard to repay that faith if Özil can’t even get into the squad, let alone onto the pitch. The 31-year-old isn’t losing hope though, and he believes more opportunities will come to prove what he can do.
“I have faith in myself and I know my quality, as do the club and my team-mates. This is the reason why, for nearly 14 years, I’ve been in football and at a high level. If and when I get the opportunity, I will show it again,” Özil continued.
On Emery potentially refusing to provide more chances: “I don’t think that will happen. I will play. I believe in myself to do what he asks of me and I want to help the club to reach our goals.”
It would be madness for Arsenal not to play Özil over the next few weeks. The team have seven games in 19 days, so failing to utilise the full extent of the squad would be very irresponsible. It’s just a case of picking the right players for the right games.