Out of action: Mesut Ozil misses match with Sunderland.
Updates from Thursday, Feb. 27
Mesut Ozil is back in the Arsenal squad and ready to face Stoke this weekend, confirmed Arsene Wenger on Thursday.
Arsenal's official Twitter feed noted:
Updates from Tuesday, Feb. 25
Mesut Ozil is due to return to Arsenal training on Tuesday, and is expected to be part of the squad for Saturday's away league fixture at Stoke, according to the Daily Mirror's John Cross:
Mesut Ozil has been given an extra break to recharge his batteries.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger gave all of his players two days off following the victory over Sunderland to try and give the whole squad a much-needed breather.
Gunners midfielder Ozil went back to see family and friends in Germany and is due to return to Arsenal's training headquarters on Tuesday. He hopes to be fit for Saturday's trip to Stoke.
Mesut Ozil was ruled out of Arsenal's home match with Sunderland on Saturday, after Arsene Wenger stated he had picked up a thigh injury.
The German midfielder had been criticised for his performance against Bayern Munich in midweek, but Wenger said he missed the visit of the Black Cats due to a fitness concern.
ESPN broke news of Ozil's omission from Wenger's squad, tweeting:
Sky Sports tweeted soon after the starting squads were announced, showing a video interview with Gunners boss Wenger, who explained the nature of Ozil's omission:
WATCH: Arsene Wenger explains the omission of Mesut Ozil ahead of the visit of Sunderland: http://t.co/ke3tIP0DGq— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) February 22, 2014
In the interview, Wenger states that Ozil's thigh problem, caused by bruising to the area, meant that the German international could not train in the build-up to the match with Sunderland. He also cited that three games in six days had forced his hand to not include the midfielder.
Ozil's absence limits Wenger's options as he attempts to keep pace with Chelsea, although the thigh issue is not expected to sideline the German for long.
It may well be that Wenger is actually choosing to protect his star after the criticism that emerged from the Bayern game, when Ozil missed a penalty. Wenger discussed Ozil's mindset following that penalty during Friday's press conference, per Sky Sports:
He is over it now? Certainly not. He apologised after the game, but 48 hours is a bit short to get over that. It's part of the job to deal with disappointment and to show that you can respond to it.
I don't think people are surprised that he missed a penalty because Bayern missed a penalty as well. He takes his penalties in an unusual way, so people are maybe a little bit less understanding, but everybody can miss penalties. It is his way, you accept it or not. It's his way of taking penalties like that.
At the moment, we have to let him recover from that.
Many will point to the player's performance against Bayern as the real reason for his omission from the squad and no doubt judgement will be reserved on Wenger's choice to drop his £42.5 million midfield star.
Arsenal face a gruelling fixture pile-up in March, with Premier League ties with Stoke City, a north London derby against Tottenham and must-win matches against Chelsea and Manchester City on the agenda as the club continues to battle for their first piece of silverware since 2005.
And in all of that, they've also got an FA Cup quarter-final against Everton, and the reverse fixture of their Champions League knockout match with Bayern Munich.
No doubt Ozil will be looking to make amends in that one.