Mesut Ozil has been left out of the Arsenal squad that will attempt to reignite the club’s title challenge against Sunderland on Saturday, Goal can reveal.
Arsene Wenger has decided to rest the German international in the aftermath of his much-criticised display in midweek, when the playmaker missed a penalty as the Gunners were defeated 2-0 by Bayern Munich in their first-leg Champions League clash.
|GOAL READERS BACK WENGER'S DECISION|
Ozil has started each of Arsenal’s last four fixtures, against Liverpool (twice), Manchester United and Bayern, which were crammed into a draining 11-day period.
The club’s record signing was also one of only three players in the team, along with centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, to play the full 90 minutes in each of the last three of those games.
Wenger admitted the penalty miss affected Ozil against Bayern and, two days later, the 25-year-old was still struggling to come to terms with seeing his crucial spot-kick saved.
Speaking on Friday, Wenger said: "Is he alright now? Certainly not, because 48 hours is a bit short to get over that."
Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp, who missed a last-minute penalty in a famous FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, will be honoured when a statue of him is unveiled ahead of the Sunderland game and Wenger says Ozil can take comfort from the Dutchman’s standing at the club.
"We had examples before like Bergkamp in '99 and he refused to take any penalty after it. He gets a statue today," said Wenger.
"A penalty is part of how you feel and how much you want it. At the moment we have to let Ozil recover, it is part of the job to get over disappointment and show how you respond."
Wenger says the playmaker is unlikely to take a penalty if Mikel Arteta, who returns from suspension against Sunderland, is on the pitch.