Wenger gives Ozil time off to come back stronger

Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has been playing with pain in his back.
Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has been playing with pain in his back.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Mesut Ozil is suffering from back spasms and has been given some time off by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The playmaker was excused from Monday's FA Cup 2-0 fifth-round victory over Sutton United because of a back problem and has travelled to Germany to spend some time with his family.

Arsenal do not have another fixture until their Premier League match at Liverpool on March 5.

The German is expected to be fit for the game but has been playing with pain for some time and Wenger believes that a period of rest will do him good.

Ozil was severely criticised for his performance in Arsenal's 5-1 Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich last week. But the revelation of his back problem provides some mitigation for his display.

The 28-year-old retains the support of Wenger, who has sanctioned the trip to Germany and then Turkey on the condition that Ozil returns to resume full training with Arsenal by the end of this week.

The rest of the squad must report for duty as normal, however, despite the 12-day gap between fixtures.

During last month's league game against Burnley, Wenger called fourth official Anthony Taylor "dishonest to your federation" during the row that led to his four-match touchline ban.

The Football Association has since released its written adjudication after Wenger was sent off at the Emirates on Jan 22. The Arsenal manager was also guilty of pushing Taylor, having moved to the players' tunnel, and he also twice told Taylor to "f*** off".

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Wenger gives Ozil time off to come back stronger'. Print Edition | Subscribe