Mesut Ozil believes he still has some way to go before finding his best form for Arsenal, and says the serious knee injury he suffered this season was caused by over-training.
The German international came in for criticism for his form earlier this season before he was ruled out for 12 weeks in October with a knee injury. However he came back to finish the season strongly to help the Gunners grab third place in the Premier League and reach the FA Cup final.
The former Real Madrid man put the injury, which he suffered in the 2-0 defeat against Chelsea after claiming he heard his knee 'crack' after playing a pass, down to the unique demands of the Premier League.
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Here, the season is very long and with many games. You have to play in midweek too and without a winter break," Ozil explained. "As a player, that's something you have to get used to. In my first season, not having a winter break meant that I could notice my body becoming a bit tired.
"I had the World Cup after my first season here. It was such a great time but when I came back, the fitness coach said that even though I felt fit, the freshness was missing.
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'I continued to give everything to help the team and that's how I got my injury. That was a really bitter time because I missed football but it's an experience you have to go through as a player. My aim was always to come back stronger and, thanks to God, everything worked out.'
Ozil will look to add his second trophy during his time in England when Arsenal take on Aston Villa in the FA Cup final. The Gunners are favourites to defend the title they won in dramatic fashion against Hull last season - and boss Arsene Wenger is determined not to underestimate their opponents, and in particular Belgian striker Christian Benteke.
“He’s a player who has a massive potential,” Wenger said. “I think some of the bad fortune of Aston Villa this season was linked with the fact that Benteke was not there," he said. “When he came back into the team, he gave a lift to everybody and of course he has a fantastic leap, he’s an intelligent player as well and he can score goals with his feet. He’s fantastic in the air and ca/n score headers against any team in the league."
Danny Welbeck will miss the game at Wembley on May 30 after being ruled out with a knee complaint, however both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Debuchy are both available for selection.
There's no doubt that Ozil has only been able to show flashes of his ability in an Arsenal shirt so far, but there were signs at the end of the campaign he was coming good.
However a return of four goals and five assists in 21 games this season isn't good enough for a player of his standard. With a summer ahead without a major international tournament Arsenal fans will hope that he comes back refreshed and ready to fire next season.
Should Ozil be playing better than Alexis Sanchez by now?
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