(Reuters) – Arsenal manager Unai Emery has urged playmaker Mesut Ozil to shake off his minor injuries and illnesses and produce consistent performances to regain his place in the starting lineup.
German midfielder Ozil has started only four matches for Arsenal since a 1-1 draw with Wolves in November but could make his return for Thursday’s second leg against BATE Borisov in the Europa League round of 32.
Emery has dropped Ozil on multiple occasions due to “tactical reasons” this season but has been pleased with the midfielder’s response in training this week.
“The key is in his hand. He is working very well this week and I asked him in our conversation to be consistent, to be available for us in training,” Emery told reporters on Wednesday.
“When you can train with quality and consistency, you can help with the best performances for us in games.
“Now, the way he is looking, is good for all the players because we are now in a big and an important moment for the season. Without the injuries, without being sick. Like that, I think we can see the best Mesut with us.”
Arsenal are trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Belarus after a dismal performance last week and will be without the suspended striker Alexandre Lacazette.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is pushing for a starting spot after recovering from a knee problem, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is ill.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)