According to the Evening Standard, Mesut Özil is set to miss his 5th consecutive game this weekend with the back problem that started bothering him sometime around the Bournemouth match - Arsenal are home to Huddersfield on Saturday. Özil missed time due to back spasms at the end of last season, but the club has not confirmed the exact nature of his injury this time around.
As was the case when Özil was dropped before the West Ham game in August, there was speculation that Unai Emery left him on the bench at Bournemouth for reasons other than his fitness. Emery said in his post-match press conference that Özil didn’t play because the Cherries were “too intense” for the German.
Many took that to be a shot at Özil’s workrate and compete level and an indication of a potential rift between manager and player. But as Phil suggested yesterday, perhaps Özil was already carrying the injury at Bournemouth, deemed fit enough to make the bench, but left out so as not to aggravate things.
As Özil misses more time, it seems increasingly likely to me that he is actually struggling with an injury as opposed to the club using an “injury” to cover up something else. I know from experience that back injuries / spasms can be finicky, tricky things that seem to randomly recur for no apparent reason.
It also strikes me that some of the perceived (imagined?) strife between Emery and Özil might be due to the manager’s relative unfamiliarity with the language. By all accounts, he is working hard to improve his English (by watching Peaky Blinders!), but he still may not be able to convey precisely what he means. He almost certainly has not mastered all of English’s nuances, idioms, and idiosyncrasies.
Let’s be honest, who among us hasn’t had trouble getting a point across at one time or another? So many words have a connotation different from their denotation, different from their meaning in context. Then you have irregular nouns, irregular verbs, and the list goes on. This language is a horror-show of inconsistency and confusion.
The bottom line is Özil is training on his own, looks likely to miss the match this weekend, and may or may not miss more time beyond that. Sometimes, when a manager says a player is injured, that’s all there is to it.