Wilshere and Cazorla injuries prevented Wenger from resting Arsenal star
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Arsene Wenger says Arsenal’s midfield injury crisis has forced him to deny Mesut Ozil a break from Premier League action during the Christmas period.
The in-form Ozil has made more first-team appearances than any other Gunners player this season, missing only one game – a Capital One Cup tie – since late September.
Wenger, who revealed that the German playmaker has been infrequently involved in training at Arsenal’s London Colney base in recent weeks, would ideally prefer to have rested him at some point.
However, the absences of several injured players, particularly Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla – both of whom are unavailable until well into the new year – have prevented him from doing so.
“I gave Mesut a one-week holiday during the international break and at the moment he doesn’t practise a lot,” said the Gunners boss. “We don’t see him a lot between the games.
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“Once the basic fitness is there between the games, he’s a guy who wants to play and sometimes, with the most technical players, it demands less energy from them. To play is just natural for them.
“But I have no Wilshere and no Cazorla. If I had these two players I could rest him [Ozil] more because Wilshere and Cazorla can play there as well.
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“Also you look at the impact he can have on other players and I consider the rotation is sensitive more in the centre of the team than on the flanks – in the heart of the team it’s more risky.”
Otherwise, Wenger intends to rotate his squad again where possible when the Gunners take on struggling Newcastle at the Emirates on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Mathieu Flamini could return to the starting line-up after sitting out Monday’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth, while Alexis Sanchez remains sidelined for at least another week.
The Gunners are expected to plug their threadbare midfield when the January transfer window opens by completing the signing of Basel’s Egyptian international Mohamed Elneny.
Wenger said: “We cannot announce anything at the moment about this player, nothing has been concluded. I will be busy, I am already – we are a bit short to deal with all the competitions we face.”
The manager also confirmed that right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who has been out of favour this season, could be set to leave the Emirates during the coming weeks.