Arsenal forward Mesut Ozil ordered to bulk up and score more goals by Arsene Wenger

Gunners manager Arsène Wenger calls on his £42.5m signing to up his game ahead of Manchester United clash

Arsène Wenger has told record signing Mesut Özil that he needs to score more goals, as well as strengthen up in the gym, as Arsenal try to get their title challenge back on track.

Arsenal host Manchester United needing an instant response after Saturday's 5-1 mauling at Liverpool, and Wenger knows the £42.5 million signing from Real Madrid needs to contribute more than he has done in recent weeks.

Özil started brilliantly for Arsenal after joining in September but has not scored for more than two months and Wenger admitted he has to work in the gym as he adjusts to the physicality of the English game. "He thinks it's more physical here for sure and he works on his body strength to deal with it," Wenger said. "He works on strengthening his body in the gym."

Özil has scored five goals for Arsenal – four in the league and one in Europe – the last one coming on 8 December. When asked where Özil most needed to improve, Wenger was clear. "Goalscoring," he said. "You want the guy who plays behind the striker to score some goals and sometimes he is too obsessed with making the perfect pass when he could take a shot at goal."

Wenger said that, in theory, this could be fixed on the training ground, "by practising on it and convincing him by showing him situations where he can shoot more. He will do that".

But the Arsenal manager lamented the lack of available time he would have to work with Özil on these specifics over the next few months. "The problem at the moment is that we are not practising much at the moment because we are playing every three days," Wenger said.

"Once we used to be able to prepare with everybody together but the problem today is that you cannot practise any more. During the season, we are playing every three days, after that they go to the World Cup. When they come back and have just one week before they are playing again. You can never improve on the training pitch."

While there is frustration from some Arsenal supporters at Özil's performances in big games – he was quiet in the defeats at Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea – Wenger said the German could handle the demands and simply needed some more support.

"[Özil] feels the pressure, of course," Wenger insisted. "Because he knows a lot is expected when you are a big transfer like that. There is a big expectation level but he should not worry about that, just play in the team and enjoy it, give his best. That's the best way to deal with it.

"On the other hand, you must say he doesn't come from a small club. He comes from Real Madrid where the pressure is always huge as well. So he's used to it."

Wenger prescribed love as the cure for Özil's dip in form, and told observers not to be fooled by his languid approach. "He needs understanding, because he always wants to do well. He cares. He's not a guy who doesn't care. His style can sometimes look like that but he's really the opposite character. He cares about the game, he wants to do well, he needs more support." So is his body language deceptive? "Completely, in fact that's the contradiction in him."

Arsenal have a chance this evening to move on from their bad defeat on Saturday, with Wenger promising the team would not unravel in February as they did in 2008 and 2011. "It is a good opportunity four days later to respond straight away and that is what we want to do," he said. "After that I can talk and talk and talk, it is action that will decide that."

Injuries mean that Wenger does not have the option of making many changes. "We rely on the response. I can make one or two changes but the core of the team has to be exactly the same."

"The professionalism of the players I have guarantees that they will give their best until the end of the season," he added. "If somebody is better than us, we have to accept it. But at the moment we are in a very interesting position and it is a long way to go."

Suggested Topics
Sport
formula oneLive lap-by-lap coverage of championship decider
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin