Arsenal vs Liverpool: Mesut Ozil was in a Berlin nightclub 'for a friend's birthday', reveals Arsene Wenger

Wenger defends the German midfielder and reveals his latest injury troubles ahead of the Premier League tie with Liverpool

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Arsene Wenger has revealed the reason behind Mesut Özil’s late-night trip to a Berlin nightclub just hours after being ruled out of Arsenal’s victory over Newcastle before the international break.

The Arsenal manager spoke to the press on Thursday morning ahead of the crucial Premier League fixture with Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, with the lunchtime kick-off set to be a pivotal match in the race for the top four.

However, following the Gunners’ last outing which came in the 2-1 victory at Newcastle, Özil was pictured in a nightclub back in his homeland, having missed the trip to St James’ Park through illness. But Wenger has explained that the £42.5m signing was only out for a short period to see a friend and wish him a happy birthday. "He went out for half an hour to a birthday for his friend to wish him well,” explained Wenger when quizzed on the story.

The 65-year-old Frenchman also revealed the latest injury troubles he is having to cope with, as England striker Danny Welbeck is the latest to have suffered injury at a crucial time for the north London side.

Welbeck has a chance of facing Liverpool this weekend should he recover from the knee injury he picked up during the Three Lions’ 4-0 win over Lithuania last Friday, which caused him to miss the 1-1 draw with Italy on Tuesday as he was sent back to Arsenal for treatment.

"He's an important player who scores goals and contributes to the team. Technically he has matured,” Wenger added.

“Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Debuchy and Abou Diaby are all back in training but not ready yet. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in training as well but won't be available. Welbeck could return."

Ozil played for Germany against Australia and Georgia

When quizzed further on Wilshere’s possible return, Wenger did seem to reveal that the England midfielder has a chance of featuring, as he admitted: "I don't know whether he will be involved yet."

Arsenal have the chance to deliver a significant blow to Liverpool’s top-four ambitions and strengthen their own in the process with a victory at the Emirates on Saturday. With Arsenal currently third and just a point behind second-placed Manchester City, Wenger knows a victory will see them move nine points clear of fifth-place Liverpool, with just seven games remaining in the season.

"What is mathematically possible you have to try to achieve but that's not all down to us,” Wenger said. “We can only master our own performances.

Wilshere could return from his latest ankle injury

"I have a big respect for Liverpool but I am focused on the game and producing the performances we have done recently."

The match sees Steven Gerrard come up against Arsenal for what could be the final time before he leaves to join LA Galaxy at the end of the season, although the two clubs remain in the FA Cup and could meet in the Wembley final should Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers in their sixth round replay and both clubs come through their respective semi-final encounters.

Welbeck suffered a knee injury on England duty

Wenger acknowledged Gerrard’s impact on the club over the years and had special praise for his ability to drag them back into the games when they looked down and out.

"When Liverpool were in trouble everyone looked towards him and nine times out of 10 he got them out of it,” he said.