The 25-year-old play-maker who cost £42.4million last summer has seen a dip in form and confidence over the last few weeks, aptly demonstrated by his lackluster performance against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last-16 first-leg at the Emirates in which the North Londoners lost 2-0.
Meanwhile, centre-forward Olivier Giroud had been benched for the clash with the Bavarians as well as the Gunners’ clash with Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth-round victory the previous weekend – due in part to his personal life off the pitch and his sub-par performances on the pitch in recent weeks.
However, the French striker came back into the starting line-up against the Black Cats at the weekend and gave the manager the response he would have hoped for, scoring the Reds’ first two goals and providing a superb assist for the third scored by Tomas Rosicky in the second half.
Giroud had issued a public apology to his wife, his manager, his teammates and the fans for his behaviour off the pitch, but his performance last weekend was apology enough for some poor and anonymous performances up front this year.
Now, his teammate Ozil is expected to come back into the squad that faces Stoke City at the Britannia this Saturday, ahead of the FA Cup clash with Everton the following weekend and the tough trip to the Allianz Arena in the Champions League in early March.
Ozil has stated he is ready for his comeback, and perhaps Arsene Wenger can hope for a similar reaction to being dropped as he saw from Giroud last weekend. Dropping high profile players has worked wonders for Wenger in the last 12 months. It was, in fact, their trip to the Allianz Arena last year in which Wenger dropped captain Thomas Vermaelen and Wojceich Szczesny from the side that won 2-0 against the eventual European champions.
The Gunners then went on a ten-game unbeaten run in the Premier League at the business end of last term to finish in fourth place ahead of Tottenham.
Wenger will be hoping the club’s record-signing will bounce back from the criticism he has received in recent weeks with a strong and diligent display against Stoke this weekend.
image: © wonker