Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has confirmed that he is close to making a return to action following a 12-week injury lay-off.
The technically-gifted attacking midfielder, who suffered a knee ligament injury in October, is not expected to be fit for Sunday’s FA Cup third round fixture against Hull City - but will be in contention to play in the Gunners’ next Premier League match, against Stoke City on January 11.
Ozil confirmed the news to German tabloid Bild, telling reporters: “I worked hard, with Klaus Eder in Donaustauf and with Arsenal, and I want to finally return to the field. Watching [Arsenal whilst being] injured has been very bitter for me.
“I really want to help my teams to catch up. Arsenal and the national team.”
Ozil: Arsenal flop?
Ozil will be hoping to finally kick-start his Arsenal career once he returns from injury. The 26-year-old has been immensely disappointing since completing his shock £42.4 million move from Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, and has only managed to show fleeting glimpses of his true quality.
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During his three-year spell with Real Madrid, Ozil cemented his reputation as one of Europe’s very best playmakers. But he has struggled to hit top form in a Gunners’ shirt for a variety of reasons.
His performances for Germany have also dipped since joining Arsenal 18 months ago. Despite helping his national team lift the World Cup in Brazil last year, Ozil’s overall contribution paled in comparison to the likes of Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer.
But after a lengthy break on the sidelines, Ozil has an opportunity to make a fresh start and resurrect his club career.
Competition for attacking places in the Arsenal first team is fierce, but Ozil still has the complete faith of manager Arsene Wenger, who will be keen to bring the World Cup winner back into his starting line-up following Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to Southampton at St Mary’s.
That result means Arsenal stay sixth in the Premier League table, 13 points behind joint league-leaders Chelsea and Manchester City.
The Gunners will still be optimistic of securing a top-four finish come the end of the season, but can ill-afford to take Champions League qualification for granted with the likes of Southampton, Tottenham and West Ham all in the mix along with third-placed Manchester United.
[Ozil quotes translated by 101greatgoals]