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Wenger backs Ozil ahead of Marseille clash, rules out return of Henry

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed record signing Mesut Ozil to rediscover his best form after some subdued performances in recent weeks.

Also Arsenal manager has ruled out signing former Gunners great Thierry Henry for a third time after the French striker began training with the club.

Ozil hit the ground running after his £42.4 million ($66 million, 50 million euros) transfer from Real Madrid in September, but he has failed to hit the heights in his last few outings.

The 25-year-old playmaker put in a disappointing performance in Arsenal’s 1-0 loss at Manchester United prior to the international break and then sat out Germany’s friendly against England after contracting a virus.

However, with Arsenal on the verge of a place in the Champions League last 16 ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Marseille, Wenger has backed the former Werder Bremen man to improve.

Arsene Wenger  Photo: Arsenal.com
Arsene Wenger Photo: Arsenal.com

“First of all, Ozil is a hugely talented player,” Wenger said at his pre-match press conference on Monday.

“He has just arrived here three months ago and overall did not have the best of preparations for the league. Ozil is a young player, 25 years old, so of course there is a lot of room for improvement for him.”

Wenger also dismissed suggestions that Arsenal were over-reliant on Ozil’s creative talents.

“We have plenty of players who can take the ball and play, but because he plays in the central part of the pitch, the ball goes through him,” the Frenchman said.

“However, we don’t put any special responsibility on him. Maybe he feels a bit more pressure to do that.

“But we just want the game to be played like we see it and do not put any special responsibility on him because everybody in our team can deliver great balls.”

Former Marseille midfielder Mathieu Flamini is available to play against his former club after serving a domestic suspension, while Theo Walcott could feature, after making his return during Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Southampton, following a stomach problem.

However, Yaya Sanogo (back) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (knee) remain unavailable, and Lukas Podolski is not yet ready to return despite resuming training following a hamstring injury.

Arsenal will qualify if they beat Marseille — who can no longer qualify — and the other Group F game between Borussia Dortmund and Napoli ends in a draw, while a Napoli win will also send Arsenal through if they avoid defeat.

Wenger, though, says his side cannot afford to worry about the different permutations.

“We know that tomorrow is a very big game in that final stage of the qualifiers. We have an opportunity to do it at home,” he said.

“You say 12 points may not be enough, it is true, but it might as well be enough and maybe already (to qualify) tomorrow, so let’s get the 12 points.”

Wenger rules out second Henry return

Also Arsene Wenger ruled out signing former Gunners great Thierry Henry for a third time after the French striker began training with the club.

Henry, who now plays for American side the New York Red Bulls, and 40-year-old former midfielder Robert Pires have both been using Arsenal’s training base north of London to maintain their fitness levels.

Henry, Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer with 228 goals, rejoined the club for a loan spell in January last year, but Wenger says there are no plans to bring the 36-year-old back again.

“At the moment Thierry is invited just to practise when he can and when he wants,” Wenger said.

“We have a big staff, a very competent one, and we have the right number to support the team to achieve the targets.”

Wenger said the presence of Henry and Pires, both members of Arsenal’s fabled ‘Invincibles’ side of 2003-04, had a positive impact on the members of the current squad.

“They have no real target to bring something; they just want to enjoy themselves and keep their fitness,” said Wenger, whose side moved four points clear in the Premier League after beating Southampton 2-0 on Saturday.

“Usually they don’t practise with the first team because they come in and work on fitness.

“It is a little bit less competitive but when we have some room, we invite them to play with us. They integrate well (with) the spirit of the team.”

Henry’s first spell in north London from 1999 to 2007 saw him win the Premier League twice, three FA Cups and reach the 2006 Champions League final, where Arsenal lost 2-1 to Barcelona.











Source - Vanguard News

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