Arsene Wenger will hold talks with Germany international Mesut Ozil over unwelcome comments he made about Arsenal’s title tilt.
The Gunners go into the weekend third in the table and 11 points adrift of Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester – albeit with a game in hand – despite sitting top at the turn of the year.
A run of just three wins in 10 league games has seen another strong championship challenge wilt with Ozil suggesting Arsenal have “mucked up” their chances.
In an interview with website spox.com, the 27-year-old World Cup winner said: “Looking at our season so far, we have to be honest and admit that we mucked it up ourselves.
“We did not play to our potential in the games against the so-called smaller teams. You immediately get punished for that in the Premier League.
“But we still have a chance of winning the title. We have to hope Leicester and Tottenham slip up and then make the most of it.”
Wenger revealed on Friday, ahead of Watford’s visit to the Emirates Stadium, that he will discuss with Ozil what he said to the media while away on international duty – with the Frenchman wanting to keep his squad united at a pivotal moment in their season.
“I will make sure they don’t feel that,” he replied when asked if he was worried such comments suggested his players had given up on their title fight.
“The statement is not welcome, I agree with you. Because we have to believe, no matter if it just one chance in 100, we have to believe. We only have a real chance if we believe.
Asked if he would discuss the quotes with Ozil, Wenger said: “We will talk about that. Yes, of course.
“I have nothing against that. You want to be fair and honest.
“But you want as a well to look forward. Our biggest deficit compared to last season was the chances we created and the goals scored. We’ve created more chances than last year and scored less goals.
“I think the worst thing in life is to have wrong beliefs. So you have to make sure that you give absolutely your best, and at the end accept that if somebody is better than you, that you have given your best.
“The worst thing for us would be not to believe, and then if we had a good run it was available, possible. I believe that we have to make sure that we play with passion until the end. That is the best way to get the supporters behind us.”
Despite clearly being irked by the comments, Wenger also confirmed he expects both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to sign fresh contracts over the summers.
The pair have been seen as flagship signings in recent years as the Arsenal purse-strings were loosened following years of bean-counting after the move to the new stadium and their current deals expire in 2018.
And Wenger insists both are set to extend their stays in north London: “That will be done in the break, in the summer. Nothing (at the moment).
Asked if he was confident they are happy and would want to stay, he said: “Yes, they have a two-year contracts.
“They look it (happy), when I talk to them they are happy and they want to extend their contracts so I don’t think it is a problem.”