UNAI EMERY admits that Mesut Ozil’s fitness problems are beyond his control and worries that the player might never be available on a regular basis.
The sickly German is available for selection for tomorrow’s North London derby after missing Arsenal’s first three games of the season.
But Emery is still not sure if Ozil will be strong enough to start against Spurs following his latest bout of illness.
Ozil, 30, has now missed a staggering 96 games since signing for Arsenal six years ago yet has suffered only one major injury during that time.
The majority of his absences have been explained away by mystery viruses or minor niggles, although Emery admits he also left the player out for tactical reasons last season.
Ozil and team-mate Sead Kolasinac were both pulled out of Arsenal’s opening game of the season at Newcastle because of security concerns after they were involved in a disturbing attempted car-jacking.
But while Kolasinac returned to the squad for the subsequent games against Burnley and Liverpool, Ozil continued to be unavailable due to a sickness which prevented him from training.
Three weeks after awarding Ozil a new £350,000-a-week contract in January last year, Arsene Wenge admitted: “Mesut’s immune system is a bit in trouble at the moment and I don’t know why. I hope we can improve this medically.”
Yet his health has clearly not progressed and now Emery admits: “Mesut’s condition is not in my control.
“Last week he was sick for some days and he also lost a lot of of training with his circumstance before with Sead. I think this is the way with him.
“He wasn’t 100 percent ready to play at Liverpool last week but this week he is getting better with each training session and is closer to helping us.
“My message to him is that first we need him to be consistent in training and then to be available for each match.
“We need him because he is a different player in our team. He brings different characteristics to our play and we need him to be available to help us with his quality.
“We are speaking a lot with every player but especially with Mesut whether he is ready or not to play, if he is sick or has a problem like he had with Sead.
“We are here only to help and to support him and after that to demand that he is ready for training because we need him in our way this year.”
Arsenal’s 4-2 win against Spurs at the Emirates last December was arguably their best performance so far under Emery’s management.
Ozil missed that match due to back trouble and wasn’t selected in the starting line-up for the 1-1 draw at Wembley in March.
Now he appears to be direct competition with summer signing Dani Ceballos for a place in tomorrow’s team as Emery contemplates his options following the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.
He says: “We are going to choose the best players in the best moments for Sunday.
“I don’t want one player to be the hero against Tottenham but for the whole team to be heroes.”