Mesut Ozil will play his first game at Newcastle this weekend over five years after joining Arsenal — with Unai Emery expecting an extra-special performance from his star midfielder.
Despite joining in summer 2013, playmaker Ozil has never played at St James’ Park because of a mixture of his injuries, being rested and the Magpies spending the 2016-17 season in the Championship.
But new Gunners boss Emery believes he will be all the sharper for a two-week rest, having quit playing for Germany following this summer’s World Cup.
Emery said: “The players are used to playing in the international break, in important matches. So if they stop doing that, I think it is good for them to focus only on their club. For Mesut, it was important to focus every day with us, as well as having a relaxing three days off last weekend.
“The reason we are working with our players is to ensure they arrive in Newcastle in the best condition. That’s the same for Mesut.
“He is working well. He is OK. When I look at him I can see his focus is totally here. We get on very well. I have a very good relationship with him and professionally I push Mesut to improve, so he can play at his best on the pitch.”
Ozil has been in the spotlight after a stop-start beginning to Emery’s debut season, but the £350,000-a-week star is under pressure to start delivering.
The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss is in no doubt the German can either play in the No.10 role or do a job out wide.
“In his career, he played like a No.10 and on the right, coming in. Here he has played both,” said Emery.
“Mesut is very convinced about that in my conversations with him. I usually give players the position they feel best in. Mesut can play these two positions. I want to give him the opportunity to do his best, to make decisive passes, to do more in and around the opposition box, and to score.
“He is feeling like I am feeling. He can improve, he can do more. In this process, we will work, we will help him, we will give him the chance to show his quality in matches.”
Emery admitted he does not know whether chief executive Ivan Gazidis is leaving to join AC Milan, having been made a big-money offer to join the Italian giants.
“First of all, every conversation with him is speaking about us and about our work here every day. I don’t know any other news from him,” said Emery, who was appointed by Gazidis this summer.
“Every conversation with me is about Arsenal. About our performance. About our ideas. Our process. We did not speak about his future. That’s a question for him.”
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