‘SMALL’ TEAMS STUMPED GUN­NERS, SAYS OZIL

Ger­man mid­fielder rues losses against ‘smaller teams’

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike Star­ling @mike­js­tar­ling

“We dropped a lot of point against the smaller teams.” – MESUT OZIL

Arse­nal fans may be cel­e­brat­ing their second-place fin­ish above ri­vals Tot­ten­ham, but star mid­fielder Mesut Ozil be­lieves that but for poor re­sults against weaker teams the sup­port­ers could have been cel­e­brat­ing a sea­son with sil­ver­ware.

Le­ices­ter City may have gone on to lift the Pre­mier League tro­phy by 10 points, but for Arse­nal, Tot­ten­ham and Manch­ester City, this sea­son will also be re­mem­bered as the one that got away.

Speak­ing yes­ter­day at the Arse­nal Soc­cer School in Dubai, Ozil said that it was the de­feat against Barcelona in the Cham­pi­ons League that sparked a run of re­sults that se­verely ham­pered the Gun­ners’ chances of claim­ing a first league ti­tle since 2004.

Af­ter a 2-0 de­feat at home to Barca in the round of 16 first leg Arsene Wenger’s side then went on to lose against Manch­ester United and Swansea City in the league, Wat­ford in the cup, and drop points in the North Lon­don derby.

“We dropped a lot of points that we should not have dropped against the ‘smaller teams’ and that was the point in the sea­son where we did not work as a team,” said the 27-year-old Ger­man World Cup win­ner.

“Es­pe­cially af­ter the Barcelona game we were just not good enough to take a point.”

When asked how Arsene Wenger’s side could pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing again next sea­son, Ozil said that play­ers’ strength could be key.

“It’s a long sea­son and a lot of things must go right,” he added.

“One of the things is play­ers get­ting in­jured. On the other hand we have to fo­cus on play­ers get­ting stronger.”

Af­ter his best sea­son in an Arse­nal shirt where he topped the Pre­mier League’s as­sist charts with 19, it has been re­ported that the club have of­fered a new bumper con­tract in order to keep the former Real Madrid star at the Emi­rates.

But Ozil in­sists that talks will have to wait un­til af­ter his Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship cam­paign with Ger­many. He said: “I have two years left on my con­tract and will be in talks with the club. Now I’m con­cen­trat­ing on the Euros in France.”

KING OF THE AS­SISTS: Mesut Ozil set up 19 goals in the Pre­mier League last sea­son, six more than his near­est ri­val, Tot­ten­ham’s Chris­tian Erik­sen

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