Mesut Ozil struggled mentally after Arsenal were dumped out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, according to Arsene Wenger.
Gary Neville questioned Ozil’s work rate and suggested he could be holding out “for a £270,000 a week contract” before committing himself to the Emirates.
However, Ozil grabbed the headlines on Wednesday night after a sparkling display with the opening goal – his first in nearly four months – in the 3-0 defeat of West Ham. He also assisted Theo Walcott’s strike.
“I feel that he is back physically. He is focused. I know him quite well,” said Wenger reflecting on Ozil’s struggles that followed the 10-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern on March 7.
“He was hit hard by us going out in the Champions League – it took some time for him to recovery mentally.”
Arsenal desperately need this upturn in form to continue as they pursue their 21st consecutive top-four Premier League finish, something Wenger is adamant his side can still achieve.
“It’s possible of course,” Wenger added. “We have a game in hand on City. We have players back from injuries. We had quite a strong bench tonight. So overall, we have done it before in more difficult conditions. But we have to try to do it again.”
His confidence is based on the belief that Arsenal have been playing more freely over the past two matches.
“You could see that even if the result against City wasn’t what we wanted, it had a positive impact on the morale of the team,” he said. “In the second half our technical superiority made the difference.”