Arsene Wenger Defends Mesut Ozil Form Ahead of Chelsea Showdown

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Arsene Wenger Defends Mesut Ozil Form Ahead of Chelsea Showdown
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Arsene Wenger believes Mesut Ozil is still "adapting to the physical challenges of the Premier League" ahead of Arsenal's showdown with Chelsea, but that he will one day become an Emirates great.

As reported by Sky Sports, the French boss has defended the recently signed German from criticism and likened him to a Gunners legend who needed time to get used to playing in England:

I believe that he has a personality. He works quite hard and is adapting to the physical challenges of the Premier League at the moment.

Ozil looks to me like (Robert) Pires. It took a while for Pires to adapt to the physical side of the game.

Once he had adapted he was absolutely amazing and Ozil is a similar type of player.

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Wenger has failed to beat Jose Mourinho in nine attempts and suggests Ozil may need a break in the aftermath of the upcoming match, per Andrew Warshaw of the Daily Mail:

"In Germany and most of Europe they have Christmas off and at some stage I will have to give him a break. But Monday night? No," said the long-serving manager.

Ozil has posted five goals and nine assists in 19 games across the Premier League and Champions League since joining Arsenal, per WhoScored.com.

His impressive numbers are testimony of a player who can go under the radar—as he did in the recent 6-3 loss to Manchester City—but still manage to influence the game with an assist, as noted by James McNicholas of ESPN:

"Such flashes of genius are customary with Ozil. However, those magical moments can't disguise a slight downturn in his overall performance," he wrote.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

The former Real Madrid player isn't used to mucking in too heavily and largely found himself muscled out of the Etihad clash, something that was also apparent during Arsenal's previous loss to Manchester United.

Ozil does suffer quiet moments when crowded out in the centre, but the 25-year-old has plenty of time to improve. His relationship with Arsenal's other midfielders has begun excellently, and there's no denying Wenger's team have played some truly irresistible football already this year.

Scott Heavey/Getty Images

A top performance against Chelsea will certainly silence any doubters. Despite being top for much of the season, Wenger knows people will continue to downplay the North London club's chances because they haven't captured the domestic title "for a long time," per Sky Sports.

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The performances of Ozil will go a long way to deciding whether these doubts are justified, as will the result of the Chelsea clash. Blues boss Jose Mourinho has already said it is "impossible to stop him for 90 minutes," per Sky Sports.

Ozil's reputation and £42.5 million price tag ensure he is always going to be heavily scrutinised, but if his aforementioned statistics are the output of a player who is yet to hit form, Arsenal fans have plenty to get excited about for the future.

 

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