The Gunners boss has been impressed by recent efforts from the German playmaker, but admits a level of consistency is now required from a key man
Mesut Ozil is “trying so hard” to be the talismanic presence Arsenal want him to be, says Mikel Arteta, with the World Cup winner aware that he needs to be more than a luxury for the Gunners.
Players of his ilk tend to be just that, with mercurial playmakers hardly famed for their consistency.
Big money is spent on them and considerable faith invested because their creative qualities bring a match-winning spark to their respective employers.
Ozil has filled that bracket for Arsenal at times, but has often generated as much criticism as he has acclaim.
A welcome return to form has been enjoyed over recent weeks, since Arteta inherited the reins at Emirates Stadium, and the German is being backed to become a key figure.
“He has been unlucky with some of the times that he has put people through and they have not scored. Things like that would have made stats a little bit different,” Arteta told Sky Sports of a man with only one assist to his name in the Premier League this season.
“But you don’t go from where he was to where he can be in five weeks, I’m sorry. Even when you really want to do it, it doesn’t always go that way. You have to be so constant. But he is trying so hard and he is very willing.”
Arteta added on the need for Ozil to buy into the power of collective effort: “I think it goes both ways.
“The team cannot have the right structure to support him if he doesn’t do some of those non-negotiables.
“If he does them, then the team can afford to have someone like him to make the difference. In some moments, he has come very close to what I would like to see from him on the pitch.”
Ozil’s cause would be aided if fellow forwards also raised their game, with more being demanded from the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.
Arteta added on the latter, who became Arsenal’s club-record signing in the summer of 2019 when completing a £72 million ($94m) move from Lille: “I have been impressed with Nico because he really likes to play, he loves football.
“He’s a very shy boy who had an incredible season last year, but that was with a very different style of football, with a lot of space, with a lot of runs in behind, with a lot of freedom.
“Here, it’s different. He is surrounded by other top players and he needs to adapt to that. To come to England and do that straight away, being a winger, is not easy.
“I have seen players with much more experience than Nico come to the Premier League and for six, eight or 12 months, completely fail and underperform. But after that, they have come back the following season and become some of the best players in the Premier League.”