Mesut Ozil vital to Arsenal going forward, says Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Last Updated: 23/02/19 9:42am
Mesut Ozil is paramount to Arsenal's chances of enjoying success over the remainder of this season and beyond, says Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
The German midfielder has played a peripheral role under Unai Emery this campaign, struggling to prove his influence to the Spaniard, and started just his fifth match for the Gunners since November in Thursday's 3-0 win against BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
Ozil was not offered any guarantees of a regular start by Emery following the victory, despite being praised for his performance, but retains the full backing of the Arsenal squad.
Arsenal are one point off the top four in the Premier League ahead of Sunday's home match against Southampton, with Rennes their next Europa League opposition in the last 16 as they target a return to Europe's top-tier competition.
"Mesut is a fantastic player and when he is fit he is one of the most important players of the team," Sokratis said.
"Of course when something is not going good, everybody is there to criticise, but we have to see also what Mesut did in the last years for this team.
"All the team, all the players are behind him and we need a good Mesut to go [forward] because we know that he is very important for us.
"He was sick, he had some problems, but after he came back for training, it was the same situation as me: when I was injured and I came back, it is not that I have to play from the first game in the first 11.
"Now he is good. He did well [on Thursday] and I hope in the next games he will go [forward] like this."
Sokratis made his return to the Arsenal team from an ankle injury in the victory against BATE and says it is understandable that the sharpness takes time to come, with Ozil having faced injury and illness issues this term.
"He enjoys [himself] and we enjoy that he is with us. But when you are injured, it is difficult," the defender added.
"Also, I feel in the first 10 minutes, I feel like a fish out of water yesterday as I was out for one month. Mesut is very important, he is a very good guy and we need him."
Arsenal saw their 22-match unbeaten ended by Southampton in December at St Mary's and Emery has demanded consistency from his side as they target a seventh successive home league win.
"We need to create a good feeling with our supporters, a good atmosphere here, giving them our energy, our quality," Emery said.
"Quality, energy and intensity, I want to develop with this capacity. We are doing that, I think here [at the Emirates] more than away from home, but consistency is my target with this team in this condition."