Arsenal coach Unai Emery applauded Mesut Ozil’s “spirit” during his cameo against Southampton despite being benched for the start of the match.
Ozil has had a bit-part role at Arsenal this season under Emery, starting only 13 Premier League games, less than half of the Gunners’ 27 outings.
Only one of those starts has come in 2019, with Ozil suffering from a lack of form and fitness problems, giving way to speculation suggesting he could be sold at the end of the season.
Ozil came on as a substitute for the final 27 minutes of Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Southampton on Sunday, impressing Emery with his attitude.
And although the German has rarely been a key figure this term for Emery, the coach is adamant Ozil is still essential.
Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Bournemouth, Emery told reporters: “It’s important mostly to be available to play and sometimes during the line-up.
“But we need players in the bench with a good mentality and good performance when we need players to help us in the second half, or for injuries or when players are tired from carrying on our intensity and skill against them.
“And, for Mesut Ozil, Sunday was a good challenge, like we spoke about before, to be in the bench and help us like he is doing in the last 30 minutes.
“It was a good performance with good spirit and I think we are stronger when every player is like that. His combination in the attacking third is important for us.”