Mikel Arteta feels Mesut Ozil is ready to seize the opportunity of a fresh start at Arsenal after being impressed by the player’s “incredible” attitude.
Ozil has endured a frustrating season so far and became a peripheral figure under former Gunners boss Unai Emery.
The 31-year-old, who has often been criticised for his languid style, was also left out for Freddie Ljungberg’s final game as interim manager at Everton after reacting angrily to being substituted in the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.
He returned to Arsenal’s starting XI for the managerial debut of new head coach Arteta and showed glimpses of his creative best in the 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.
✅ First game as our head coach
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 26, 2019
Former City assistant coach Arteta, who was in the opposition dugout on December 15 when Ozil kicked his gloves having being replaced, has been encouraged by the mentality of the German World Cup winner.
“To be fair his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible, and I’ve seen this,” said Arteta.
“I said I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and it was fair as well to give it to him.
“When we did the game preparation and we were watching the opponents, and where we could hurt them, we believed that he could be a key point. And we prepared the game like this, with him.
“He responded, he did what he had to do and we could have put two or three goals because of him in the net.”
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 26, 2019
Ozil enjoyed plenty of the ball at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day as Arsenal dominated possession and carved out 17 attempts at goal.
He was substituted without protest 15 minutes from time after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had cancelled out Dan Gosling’s opener to earn the 11th-placed Gunners a deserved point.
Ozil later expressed support for the methods of his new manager, finishing a tweet with the words “Let’s trust the process”.
Struggling Bournemouth have been blighted by a host of injury problems during the hectic festive period.
Great to see this man back on the pitch today ❤️
— AFC Bournemouth (@afcbournemouth) December 26, 2019
While captain Simon Francis added to the hosts’ selection problems ahead of the Gunners game, Cherries manager Eddie Howe was delighted to have stand-in skipper Steve Cook back following four games out with a freak injury.
“It was a strange one because normally with footballers you get leg issues and lower limb injuries, this was just a ball hitting his wrist, not a lot he could do about it,” said Howe.
“But it led to quite a serious injury. Of course we wanted him back, we wanted him back staying back.
“It was touch and go for Burnley (on December 21) but we decided to play him in this one, give him a few days’ extra rest and hopefully he’s OK now.”