Arsene Wenger: Mesut Ozil has suffered a lot without Santi Cazorla in the Arsenal team

James Benge

Arsene Wenger believes the absence of Santi Cazorla has played a major role in Mesut Ozil’s recent struggles.

The German playmaker is set to miss Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool on Saturday as he continues to recover from an illness but his place in Wenger’s starting lineup had been a matter of growing debate.

After starting the season in fine form Ozil has struggled to have the same impact on the Arsenal team since the turn of the year, contributing no goals and just two assists in nine games since December 10.

Wenger has vowed not to “park the bus” for his side’s visit to Liverpool despite their historic struggles away from home and believes such a negative approach would only hurt players like Ozil.

“If you play for Arsenal, you always owe us a performance. You cannot say you want to play for Arsenal and not perform. Everybody wants to perform of course,” Wenger said.

“I'm not a psychiatrist. I think confidence plays a part. Ozil is a guy who, when you speak about parking the bus, if you want to park the bus then you lose Ozil. He is a guy who needs possession and with possession he is a marvellous player.

“I think he has been a bit analysed a lot. He suffered a lot from the loss of Santi Cazorla.

(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“Because Cazorla in deep midfield, can get out of pressure, gets the ball played through to a player who is higher up and then Ozil is a player who, with the timing of the pass, with the ball at the right moment, he can always do damage.

“I don't want to make a debate about one player before a game like this. It's not Ozil alone who will win us the game. It's a strong team performance.”

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