Arsene Wenger
Wenger left with another selection dilemma for Watford clash Getty


  • Arsenal boss says France striker is still a 'fraction behind' his teammates.
  • Ozil came off the bench against Leicester City in goalless draw.

Arsene Wenger is hopeful Arsenal duo Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud will be back to full fitness in time for his side's Premier League clash with Watford on Saturday 27 August.

Ozil, along with France internationals Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud, missed the Gunners' opening game of the season after being handed extended holidays following their summer campaigns at Euro 2016.

Despite having only had two weeks' of training under his belt, Koscielny was called back into the starting XI amid an injury crisis at centre-half against Leicester City on Saturday 20 August. Ozil also appeared off the bench in that game after 73 minutes as the away side desperately searched for a winner at the King Power Stadium.

While he stopped short of declaring the Germany international fully match fit, Wenger is hopeful the playmaker will be able to return to the starting line-up on Saturday at Vicarage Road, although he is less certain about Giroud.

When asked about Ozil, Wenger told a press conference: "He is not far now, it is a decision I have to make in the next 24 hours. Giroud still a fraction behind physically."

To add to the fitness concerns running through the squad, Arsenal lost Aaron Ramsey to injury in the opening day defeat to Liverpool. Like some of his teammates, Ramsey was handed an extended break after a sublime Euro 2016 campaign with Wales where he played a key role in getting his side to the semi-final stage.

Having returned to training just two weeks before the start of the new season, Ramsey was not expected to start Arsenal's first game of the season. That decision was then called into question when the former Cardiff City player suffered a hamstring injury, with Wales boss Chris Coleman suggesting his latest setback could have been avoided.

Wenger defended his selection policy, however, insisting Ramsey's suspension that saw him miss Wales' semi-final in France should have ensured enough time for him to rest. "He didn't play the final, nor the semi-final [of Euro 2016] so he was out two weeks before Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Ozil. He had plenty of preparation time."