Mikel Arteta was happy with what he saw from all his players against Bournemouth, including Mesut Ozil who has endured a tough season, and an image of the pair is delighting Arsenal fans.
We will probably never know what Unai Emery’s problem with Mesut Ozil was. There were reports that the German didn’t apply himself in training properly but they have not been corroborated and, in many cases, dismissed outright or shown to be lies as he goes in for extra training [1, 2, 3, 4].
Before the game against Bournemouth, Arteta said every player had a clean slate and, being true to his word, started Ozil who was central to most of Arsenal’s creativity on the day.
Asked about Ozil, who was taken off after 75 minutes, Arteta said after the game, “To be fair his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible.
“I’ve seen this. I’ve said that I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and it was fair to give it to him. When we did the game preparation and were watching the opponents, where we could hurt them, we believed that he could be a key point.
“We prepared the game like this with him. He responded, did what he had to do, and we could’ve scored two or three goals because of him.”
Ozil played four key passes during the game and even made an interception and a clearance.
As he left the pitch, in contrast to the game against Manchester City when he kicked his gloves away in frustration, the reaction was somewhat different as you can see below:
After the game, Arteta also spoke about the mentality of his Arsenal players but, rather than repeat the usual, tired lines about mental strength, he actually gave some insight into his own fears and how he was trying to handle the fragility of Arsenal’s confidence.
“It will be a process,” Arteta told reporters when asked about how much work was needed to lift the players out of their Emery slump. “I was worried what would happen if we conceded a goal. We did and I was very pleased with the character they showed.
“They came in at half-time and their faces, their reactions [were spot on]. It was about how much they wanted it.
“Normally, when you are in this process and you concede a goal, the confidence goes down and a lot of things that have happened in the past can come back. It didn’t happen, it happened in the complete opposite sense and that’s a really positive thing to take on board.”