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Arsene Wenger says Mesut Ozil needs a rest - but not against Chelsea

Mesut Ozil of Arsenal. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images Mesut Ozil of Arsenal. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Sunday, December 22, 2013
8:01 AM

Arsene Wenger has admitted that Mesut Ozil is in need of a rest - but it won’t be on Monday when they face Chelsea.

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The Gunners must beat the Blues to return to the top of the Premier League - which would be a first for their manager who has never beaten a Jose Mourinho side in nine attempts.

Victory would also go some way to convinving the club’s critics that they can sustain a title challenge this term after a humbling 6-3 defeat to contenders Manchester City last weekend.

They had made a good case up until then, leading from the front for much of the campaign, helped after a first day of season defeat to Aston Villa by the introduction of Ozil.

Arsenal broke the bank for the German playmaker, splashing a club record £42.5million in the summer to tempt him away from Real Madrid, and his arrival gave the Gunners a noticeable lift.

But Ozil has started to show signs of tiredness of late. He has never experienced Christmas in either Germany or Spain without a winter break but is unlikely to be rested, at least for the next two games against Chelsea and West Ham due to Jack Wilshere’s suspension.

“In Germany and most of Europe they have Christmas off and at some stage I will have to give him a break,” said Wenger. “But Monday night? No.

“He has played a lot. But we have had a little break since we played last Saturday at Manchester City and, hopefully, he has recovered.”

It’s not something new to Wenger though, who said: “We had that problem with Jens Lehman when he came from Germany in the first season.”

Ozil’s compatriot Lukas Podolski could feature against Chelsea after recovering from a hamstring tear that has kept him out since August.

“It is a big boost because he can score goals in big games,” said Wenger.

“He has shown that before. He is a clinical finisher and a great football player.”

Wenger did however offer a note of caution about the German, saying: “When they have been out for a long time it’s sometimes difficult to catch the pace of the game. It takes a little while because he was out with a big injury but now he’s not far away.”

Laurent Koscielny is “80/90 per cent out” of the Chelsea game after suffering a deep gash at Manchester City last week.”

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