Amy Lawrence on 13 September 2018
Unai Emery has challenged Mesut Özil to become more dominant in Arsenal’s matches.
It has not been the most serene period of Özil’s career, and he has just experienced a quiet international break without involvement in Germany’s squad since his complex withdrawal from the scene. Emery is hoping for a fresh start for a player he wants to see relishing his opportunity to affect games for the club.
“I want to find with him the possibility to do the best, to make decisive passes, to do more near and in the box to score,” the manager said. “He is working for the team to help us with his quality. But he is feeling like I am feeling. He can improve, he can do more. We will work, we will help him, give him the possibility on the pitch to be together, to find his qualities for us.”
Questionable or quirk, the fact is Özil has never travelled to Newcastle in Arsenal colours since joining in 2013. Four visits have passed without him joining the squad for the journey to Tyneside.
His appetite for away matches does come under scrutiny but Emery is keen to keep his group tight and ambitious. “I want to push them,” he said. “I want to be demanding to prepare for this match – Mesut the same.”
Özil showed flashes in Arsenal’s last match, a narrow win at Cardiff, but Emery wants the levels to be cranked up.
He suggested the 29-year-old playmaker had been in a positive frame of mind during the international break, even though it was strange to be outside that habit of representing his country.
“He could feel different but every day with us I look at him and he looks well and happy, working with our demands,” added Emery.
“He had a relaxing three days off at the weekend. Mesut works very well here. I look at him with the focus totally here. I have a very good relationship with Mesut and professionally I push him for improvements to give us the best in his qualities and performances.”