Arsene Wenger giving rest to Mesut Ozil to keep Arsenal midfielder fresh
Arsene Wenger has revealed Mesut Ozil rarely trains between matches as he looks to keep the in-form German at peak fitness.
The 27-year-old is enjoying a purple patch and has already provided 16 assists in the Barclays Premier League this campaign, leading teammate Theo Walcott to hail him as the season's best player so far.
While the likes of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez are out injured, Ozil has avoided any problems and become a pivotal part of an Arsenal side which sits top of the table ahead of Saturday's visit of Newcastle.
And Wenger, who was criticised for over-playing Sanchez before he pulled up with a hamstring injury against Norwich last month, is giving Ozil time to rest to avoid burnout.
"Mesut, I gave him a one-week holiday during the international break," Wenger said in a Friday news conference.
"At the moment he doesn't practise a lot, we rest him a lot between the games.
"He is a guy who once the basic fitness is there between the games, he wants to play.
"There are types of players, sometimes the most technical players, it looks like it demands less energy for them to play -- it is just natural for them."
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Wenger also conceded he would find it difficult to pull Ozil out of his team at the moment given how well he is playing -- and with a lack of quality in reserve due to injuries.
"I don't have Wilshere or Cazorla who are No. 10s," he said. "I could rest him more if I had these players because Wilshere can play there and Cazorla can play there.
"You look as well at the impact he can have on other players.
"The Premier League is very tight and if you go in the decisive game and you do [rest Ozil or other star players], then other players think subconsciously, they don't tell you, 'why?' -- even the player himself."
Meanwhile, Ozil's teammates are benefiting massively from the former Real Madrid man's current form, with Walcott able to rely on him to provide plenty of goalscoring opportunities.
The England forward passed up several chances to get on the scoresheet in Monday's 2-0 win over Bournemouth after being played in by the Germany midfielder on a number of occasions.
Ozil himself grabbed a goal having set up Gabriel's opener with a corner and Walcott labelled him a "special player" as he continues to lead the Gunners' title tilt.
"He has told me to just keep making runs, he just spots it," Walcott said to reporters on Friday. "I need to help out by putting them in.
"Mesut is just in the form of his life, he is just a special player.
"Some of the things you see on the pitch -- his goal alone, he didn't break stride and it was like he was jogging.
"He just slows things down when he is playing. The finish [against Bournemouth] was class."
When asked if Ozil has been the star of the Premier League season at its half-way stage, Walcott replied: "Without a doubt.
"The stats show that, but not just that: his work-rate through the game and I see him training every day and what he does for this team. He is only going to get better and better.
"Obviously it always takes time when you come into a new team and new environment to get the balance right but everyone knows his strength and he is fitting in now."
With Wilshere, Sanchez, Cazorla and a number of other first-team players to return from injury in the early months of 2016, Walcott also feels he is part of the best Arsenal squad he has seen since moving to the club nearly 10 years ago.
"We don't want to look ahead of ourselves but we have a history of ending the season well," he added.
"We are getting players back fit and we have one of the best squads when we have everyone fit, I truly believe that.
"It is the best team I've been involved in when you have Mesut and the way he is playing gets the best out of everyone.
"Players came in today who haven't been playing too much and they did fantastically well and that just shows the strength in depth we have in this team and the pressure of places.
"We have confidence and it is just flowing out there."