Judge Ozil in the long termArsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt Mesut Ozil’s class will eventually tell — and one day perhaps even see him immortalised with a statue outside the Emirates Stadium like Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry.
By Jim van WijkOzil made a promising start following his £42.5 million signing from Real Madrid at the end of the summer transfer window, but has struggled to make an impact in the last few months.
That frustrating inconsistency was epitomised by a costly penalty miss in the Champions League last-16 first leg defeat against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
Arsenal will unveil a bronze statue of former striker Bergkamp ahead of today’s Premier League fixture against Sunderland.
Much like Ozil, the ex-Holland international needed time to grow into his new surroundings following a then club-record £7.5m move from Inter Milan in June 1995, failing to score in his first seven games.
Wenger is in no doubt Ozil possesses the same elements to develop into an Arsenal great.
“Ozil is a classy player and on a longer period class tells, always,” said Wenger.
“I would like to say how pleased I am that Dennis Bergkamp gets his statue, for his class, his contribution to the success of the club, and as well, a forgotten quality in the modern game, for his loyalty.
“That is why I am so happy that he gets one, and I wish that one day Ozil will get one outside the stadium as well and I will still be well enough to come and watch it.”
Wenger maintains Ozil should not dwell on his penalty miss against Munich and also not be afraid to try another one when he is ready.
“Is he over it now? Certainly not, because 48 hours is a short time to get over that, but it is part of the job as well to deal with disappointment and to show that you can respond to it,” Wenger said.
Asked whether he would let Ozil take a penalty again, the manager said: “I believe at the moment you have to let him recover.
“I had examples before, with people like Dennis Bergkamp who missed an important penalty in 1999 (the FA Cup semi-final replay defeat to Manchester United) and refused after to take any penalty (for a while)... some other people don’t mind and (take penalties) again. It depends on how you feel and how much you want it.”
Arsenal will be without full-back Kieran Gibbs because of a hamstring injury, and Wenger is likely to rotate his squad.
Giroud had been left on the bench against Bayern in favour of rookie forward Yaya Sanogo.
The France international was in the headlines for some personal issues in the past couple of weeks, but Wenger insists he is in the right frame of mind.
For his part, Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet has told his players they still have time to play themselves into his Capital One Cup final team against Manchester City.
Asked if players will be competing for places at the Emirates Stadium, he said: “No doubt, no doubt.
“Managers will always have seven or eight we will pick if they are fit, which leaves three or four which are always available for people depending on what they do or how they feel.
“I hope nothing happens next week so I can make the decisions based on performance and what we need.”