We messed it up: Oezil

Arsenal's players are stunned as Swansea City's Ashley Williams (left) scores the winner against them in a Premier League clash on March 2. The Gunners took the lead but allowed their bottom-half rivals to bounce back and win 2-1.
Arsenal's players are stunned as Swansea City's Ashley Williams (left) scores the winner against them in a Premier League clash on March 2. The Gunners took the lead but allowed their bottom-half rivals to bounce back and win 2-1. PHOTO: REUTERS

Playmaker admits Arsenal can only blame themselves for faltering EPL title bid

LONDON • Mesut Oezil believes that Arsenal have "messed up" their English Premier League season by failing to beat lesser sides.

The London club are 11 points behind leaders Leicester City with a game in hand, having lost the lead and games against West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City and managing only to draw with Norwich City and Stoke City.

Arsenal face a similar challenge today when they host Watford, who are in the bottom half and beat them 2-1 in the FA Cup quarter-final last month. In contrast, Arsenal have taken 11 points from 15 against teams in the top four.

Oezil said that Arsenal can only hope that Leicester and Tottenham Hotspur, who are in second place, drop points in the run-in.

"Looking at the season so far, we have to admit honestly that we messed it up ourselves," the Germany playmaker said. "We did not achieve against smaller clubs what we are able to do. But we still have chances (of winning the title). We have to lie in wait for a slip-up from Leicester and Tottenham and then be ready to make the most out of it."

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Oezil, who has scored five and made 18 league goals this season, said Arsenal have been hurt by injuries to key players and need to strengthen their squad this summer.

"This season has shown that we struggle when we are missing a number of key players and we cannot allow this to happen again," he said. "We will only see more good players in the Premier League in the future due to the new television deal. Teams will only get stronger and Arsenal will have to strengthen as well."

Arsenal have been without the likes of Petr Cech, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey in recent weeks. But manager Arsene Wenger could have his No. 1 goalkeeper back today.

The Frenchman confirmed that Cech trained yesterday after missing the last five games with injury.

"I haven't decided if he will be in the squad tomorrow," Wenger said, adding that Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere are back in full training and that Cazorla has resumed running.

The Gunners manager also refused to give up on the title.

"If we win all the eight games, we have more than a chance to win the league, but our target is to win the games," he told a press conference yesterday.

"Let's start to be pragmatic and win the next one which is tomorrow. We are depending on Leicester City and nobody knows how they will go in the last seven games.

"What is important is that we play our eight games with complete commitment and passion, and see where we finish."

THE TIMES, LONDON


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'WE MESSED IT UP: OEZIL'. Print Edition | Subscribe