Saturday 24 February 2018

Ozil insists players haven't given up playing for Wenger

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil. Photo: REUTERS
Arsenal's Mesut Ozil. Photo: REUTERS

Jeremy Wilson

Mesut Ozil has denied that Arsenal's players have stopped playing for Arsene Wenger and urged his team-mates to ignore the uncertainty engulfing the club and focus on football until the summer.

A run of seven defeats in 12 matches has cost Arsenal their place in the Champions League and left them sixth in the Premier League but Ozil, who is among those approaching the final year of his contract, has stressed that the season can feasibly still finish on a high. "At this stage I'm not important, what's important is the club," he said.

"We've still got a lot to aim for this season, to try and finish in the top four and the FA Cup.

"It would be wrong to think about anything other than the football and then we can talk again at the end of the season."

Arsenal's 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday prompted fans and pundits to question the commitment of the squad, with Jamie Carragher calling the players "cowards" and Ian Wright claiming that the dressing room had been lost.

"There is no player, especially not me, who will go out and give 90 per cent and not give everything or think, 'We are going to lose today. What is the point? I will hold myself back'," said Ozil. "That doesn't happen at all. I always give 100 per cent, I always fight for everything."

Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are understood to have been offered around £250,000 a week to stay at the Emirates and, although Wenger is publicly optimistic about keeping his two star players, nothing is expected to be resolved until the end of the season.

Read more: 'At the moment it would be wrong to think about that' - Mesut Ozil not ready to commit to Arsenal

Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are all interested in Sanchez but the options open to Ozil are far less obvious. Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs are also all out of contract next year while a decision on Wenger's contract is unlikely before the end of the season.

Ozil's form his dipped since the Christmas period but he has suggested that he is a victim of his languid body language.

"Maybe my style sometimes does make it look like I'm not 100 per cent there, giving my absolute everything." Ozil added. "But that is my body language, that is the way I am and I won't change that."

Sanchez, meanwhile, was yesterday short-listed for the PFA Player of the Year award along with Chelsea duo N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane.

Kane - the only English nominee in this category - has netted 19 goals despite two spells out with ankle problems. He has also been shortlisted for the Young Player of the Year gong alongside Spurs team-mate Dele Alli, Burnley's Michael Keane, Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Manchester City winger Leroy Sane. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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