• Champions League

Ozil challenged by Wenger to silence doubters

ESPN staff
March 10, 2014
Mesut Ozil was given time off by Arsene Wenger recently © Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has challenged Mesut Ozil to silence his doubters once and for all when he faces Bayern Munich for a second time in this season's Champions League.

The playmaker has been through the mill since missing a potentially pivotal penalty against the German side in the first leg with criticism of him reaching fever pitch and the Arsenal manager admitting Ozil had let the mistake "affect him too much".

But Wenger wants the club-record £42.5 million signing to prove his quality in the tough return leg on Tuesday when his club need to to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the Allianz Arena to make the quarter-finals.

"I think he is over it," said Wenger of the spotkick saved by Bayern's Manuel Neuer. "He has a good opportunity to show on Tuesday how good he is.

"I think it affected him mentally too much, the penalty he missed against Bayern. It was not only physical, it was mental.

"He had the feeling he let the team down at a very important moment of the game, that affected his performance very much.

"Psychologically sometimes the wound is like a physical one. You can talk and talk and talk, but it takes time. You just have to leave it to time."

Ozil looked back to somewhere near his best in Saturday's FA Cup 4-1 quarter-final win against Everton and Wenger believes the jubilant celebrations that followed Ozil's goal against was evidence that his team-mates appreciated the importance of his strike.

"It was certainly important to him and to the team as well," Wenger said. "I like the way he finished against Everton, in a calm, convincing way. He made great runs and was absolutely outstanding from the first to the last minute."

Ozil's Arsenal team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says it is not only be the German who can cover himself in glory on Tuesday.

When asked whether he thought Arsenal could make the Champions League last eight of the competition, he said: "Yes, 100 per cent.

"Last season we went there 3-1 down, everyone wrote us off, but we managed to get a good 2-0 win there. We will be feeling we can take from that and from Saturday's performance [against Everton].

"In football a lot of things can happen. We are top side, they will know the job is not done and we know the job is not done."

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