London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Unai Emery is not looking to offload Mesut Ozil this month, but wants the German to start delivering consistently on the field when given the chance.
Ozil wasn’t even included in Emery’s squad for last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at West Ham despite taking a full part in training the week before the game on his return from a knee injury.
However, Emery insisted the 2014 World Cup winner could return against Chelsea on Saturday in a vital clash for the Gunners if they are to make up a six-point gap to the top four.
“I’ve spoken to him because I want consistency. He’s had some injuries and these injuries mean that sometimes he is okay and sometimes he isn’t okay,” said Emery.
“I want every player to give the same work everyday to be okay for every match. With Mesut it’s the same. He didn’t play the last matches but to me he’s just like any other player. This Saturday he can be with us if he’s okay.”
Ozil has publicly posted photos of his training regime to his nearly 24 million Twitter followers this week to demonstrate he is fit for selection.
The decision to hand the former Real Madrid midfielder a contract worth a reported £350,000 ($450,000) a week until 2021 last January has been cited as a major reason why Emery has admitted Arsenal cannot afford any permanent signings this month.
And despite reports Arsenal might even be willing to subsidise some of his wages to offload Ozil this month, Emery insisted he is still very much part of his plans.
“I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about how he can help us this year with good performances,” added the Spaniard.
“He’s had injuries and not been okay to play matches, but now after these two weeks maybe this Saturday will be okay for him.”
Given Arsenal’s financial struggles, Champions League qualification for the first time in three seasons is even more vital.
Emery’s men are fifth, level on points with a resurgent Manchester United, but can close to within three points of Chelsea with victory at the Emirates.
“I think Saturday is a big test and our first objective is to be in the top four,” added Emery.
“A win will take us closer to them. This will take us one step closer to our objective and this is the test.
“Over 38 matches some are small finals and Saturday for us is a small final.”
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