Unai Emery suggested Mesut Ozil has grown “happier” at Arsenal as he praised the playmaker’s stellar performance in the 5-1 thumping of Bournemouth on Wednesday.
The former Germany international shone on his first Premier League start since January 29, scoring the opener and registering an assist for Henrikh Mkhitaryan during a masterful first 45 minutes.
Ozil, 30, has largely struggled to gain Emery’s trust since the Spaniard’s arrival at Emirates Stadium and was linked with a move away during the January transfer window.
But the ex-Real Madrid man impressed his head coach with a mix of guile and graft against the outclassed the Cherries, stating a convincing case for selection in this weekend’s north London derby.
“Good,” Emery responded when asked by the BBC about Ozil’s performance.
“I think he’s happier with us. I am now also very proud of players and the same with Mesut.
“He helped us with his quality and his work also to organise and play in different systems.”
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) February 27, 2019
Laurent Koscielny, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and substitute Alexandre Lacazette joined Ozil and Mkhitaryan on the scoresheet, the Gunners blowing away Bournemouth after Lys Mousset’s goal against the run of play in the first half.
The victory – Arsenal’s fifth in their last six Premier League fixtures – took on extra significance with third-placed Tottenham beaten 2-0 away to Chelsea.
They can now close to within a point of Spurs when the teams meet at Wembley on Saturday, a chance Emery is eager to take with a home game against Manchester United to follow in the league eight days later.
“Yes, it’s a big motivation,” he said of the derby. “We need to take the opportunity, like today.
“We have a great opportunity. At the moment they are better than us in the table and it’s difficult to win there. It’s a great test.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 27, 2019
Emery is hopeful centre-back Koscielny will be fit to feature against Spurs after he sustained a late knock in a lunging challenging from Joshua King.
Fellow defender Sead Kolasinac will also be monitored closely, having reported a muscle problem prior to his 57th-minute substitution.
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