Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted midfielder Mesut Ozil has not recovered from the disappointment of missing a penalty in the 2-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, but he has backed the German to bounce back and become a club legend.
Record signing Ozil took to Facebook on Thursday to apologise to Arsenal supporters after his weak early spot-kick was saved by Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer, but Wenger has urged his 42.4 million-pound man to use the example set by Dennis Bergkamp in his bid to bounce back quickly.
The former Gunners forward missed a crucial penalty in the epic 1999 FA Cup semifinal loss against Manchester United, yet the unveiling of a statue outside Emirates Stadium ahead of Saturday’s game against Sunderland confirms his iconic status was not tarnished by that one moment of despair.
“Is he over it now? Certainly not,” questioned Wenger when asked to sum up Ozil’s mood. “Just 48 hours is a bit short to get over that, but it is part of this job to deal with disappointment and show that you can respond to it. He apologised after the game.
“I don’t think that people are not shocked by the fact he missed a penalty because Bayern missed one as well. He takes his penalties in an unusual way, so people are maybe a little bit less comprehensive. You have to accept it or not.
“Look, I believe that at the moment, we have to let him recover from that. I had examples before with people like Dennis Bergkamp who missed an important penalty in 1999 and refused to take any penalty again.
“Incidentally, he gets a statue tomorrow, so it doesn’t take a statue away from you,” Wenger continued. “Some other people don’t mind and do it again. A penalty is part of how you feel, how much you want it.
“I wish that one day Ozil gets one outside the stadium one day as well and I will still be good enough to come and watch it [unveiling]. Ozil is a classy player and on a longer period, class tells always.”
The under-fire playmaker also thanked his Arsenal teammates on Twitter on Thursday for their support in the aftermath of the game.
Wenger has confirmed that the returning Mikel Arteta will resume penalty duties in Saturday’s Premier League game against Sunderland, and has urged his side to bounce back from the disappointment of their Champions League defeat.
“The result we have not digested, but I believe in this kind of game you want a quality of performance and the right result at the end,” said Wenger. “The players can be proud because they put the quality of performance in. We are frustrated because we didn’t get the result that we wanted.
"Overall we have to transfer the positives of this game into the end of our season and get on with it. We can try to reverse it in the second leg at Bayern.
“We have played in three different competitions in one week. Wednesday night we played against Manchester United in the Premier League, Sunday we played in the FA Cup, then we play in the Champions League.
“It’s extremely difficult to adjust to different competition physically as well, it’s very demanding. We have fought so well in the Premier League and we have to come back and win our home game against Sunderland.
“We have an opportunity to come back, get the negative vibes out of the game and get into the Premier League again. The challenges we have ahead are massive and exciting.
“It is important we don’t feel down because of the result against Bayern later. What we have in front is so exciting, it will lift the players again.”