'We have screwed up but we can still win league' – Ozil
Mesut Ozil has admitted that Arsenal will have “screwed up” the Premier League title race if they fail to overhaul Tottenham Hotspur and leaders Leicester City, and warned that they cannot afford another summer of inactivity in the transfer market.
Third-placed Arsenal are 11 points behind Leicester with a game in hand, having been top earlier this year, and Ozil (below) claims they have shot themselves in the foot.
Arsenal have lost Premier League games against West Ham United, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton, Manchester United and Swansea City this season, and Ozil said: “Looking at our season so far, we have to be honest and admit that we screwed up ourselves.
“We did not play to our potential in the games against the so-called smaller teams. You immediately get punished for that in the Premier League. But we still have a chance of winning the title. We have to hope Leicester and Tottenham slip up and then make the most of it.”
Whether Arsenal manage to catch Tottenham and Leicester, Ozil believes they will have to invest heavily in the summer to ensure they can mount another title challenge next season.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger did not sign a single outfield player last summer and Ozil said: “Teams will only get stronger and Arsenal will have to strengthen as well. This season has shown that we struggle when we are missing a number of key players. We cannot allow this to happen again next season. We will only see more good players in the Premier League in the future due to the new TV deal.”
Arsenal are lining up a move for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka and want to sign a top-class striker this summer. But Wenger has come under heavy criticism for his failure to strengthen his squad last year.
Despite outlining the necessity not to repeat past mistakes, Ozil backed the Frenchman who signed him for £42.5million from Real Madrid in 2013.
“I would be delighted for Wenger if we win the title,” said Ozil. “He played a major role in my decision to join Arsenal. He was desperate to sign me. Everybody knows he is an extraordinary manager.”
Ozil will start for Arsenal against Watford tomorrow in a game that Arsenal must win to retain any hope of winning the title, but Wenger will be without Santi Cazorla for another three or four weeks.
Cazorla has not played since rupturing the lateral collateral ligament in a knee at Norwich on November 29.
There was better news for Jack Wilshere, who is yet to play this season, as Wenger added: “Wilshere and [Tomas] Rosicky are back in full training.
Basically they are all progressing well. It is Jack’s first week back in full training and we’ll see how he responds to that, but the first signs are quite good. We’ll assess our options next week."
“(Petr) Cech is going back to normal training. It’s too early to say if he will be available for the weekend. He might be a bit short to be competitive.
“(Aaron) Ramsey will not be available for this weekend, but hopefully next weekend.” (© Daily Telegraph, London)