Mikel Arteta has challenged Mesut Ozil to keep hitting the hard-working heights of his industrious performance during Arsenal’s loss to Chelsea.
Ozil was handed a standing ovation at the end of a busy shift in Arsenal’s 2-1 turnaround loss to the Blues at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Germany playmaker was fully dialled in as the Gunners bossed the opening half hour, and despite the eventual loss new Arsenal boss Arteta admitted that must now be Ozil’s baseline standard.
Arteta has warned Ozil there will be no guarantees over selection at the north London club during his tenure, leaving the 31-year-old star in no doubts about the hard work ahead.
Arteta said: “Mesut was very effective against Chelsea. I’m hoping he can sustain that level every three or four days.
“His numbers physically have improved so much. And he’s willing, that’s what I can tell you. He’s been showing it in training. The structure has to help him to be able to take everything he has inside.
“I just tried to prepare the team collectively and individually with the strengths and weaknesses that we have, to promote our strengths and avoid our weaknesses.
“On his own he cannot do it, he needs the collective and the structure around him and his team-mates.
“There’s only one or two players in the world who can do it on their own. He needs help.
“If I see every day this attitude and desire and understanding of what we’re trying to do, and if he’s in a better moment than everybody else, I will pick him. But if it changes, then he won’t play.”
Bernd Leno’s goalkeeping howler gifted Chelsea a late equaliser after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early goal had put Arsenal in control.
Tammy Abraham capped a fine counter-attack to seal Chelsea’s win, to stun their hosts and deny new boss Arteta a dream home debut at the Arsenal helm.
Arsenal host Manchester United on New Year’s Day, with Arteta conceding he must battle to repair his squad’s brittle confidence.
“That’s my worry now, that the result doesn’t affect them too much,” said Arteta.
“We’re all disappointed how the game ended, they don’t feel they deserved that.
“But they have to move on, a game in another three days, a big one as well and they have to respond now in a new challenge.”