By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Mesut Ozil has suffered a dip in form after struggling with a foot problem over the last month, Football Insider sources understand.
Ozil delivered man-of-the-match displays in the Gunners’ wins over Manchester City and Bournemouth over the festive period to take Arsene Wenger’s team to the Premier League summit.
However, an Arsenal source has told Football Insider that the German playmaker has been troubled by a minor foot problem in recent weeks, which has impacted on his own and the team’s performances.
Ozil missed the goal-less draw at Stoke on 17 January with the injury and but was below par in the marquee fixtures against Liverpool and Chelsea, which Arsenal drew 3-3 and lost 1-0 respectively.
Wenger has considered resting his key man from more Premier League games but abandoned the idea due to the shortage of back-up options, with so many midfielders sidelined due to injury.
The Arsenal manager did give Ozil a breather for the weekend FA Cup win over Burnley and is set to recall him to the starting line-up for Tuesday night’s league clash against Southampton.
The Gunners’ £40million record signing has been one of the standout players in the Premier League this season, supplying 16 assists, seven more than his closest rival Kevin de Bruyne and just four adrift of Thierry Henry’s record of 20 in a single campaign.
Wenger wants to carefully manage the workload of a player he regards as integral to Arsenal’s title challenge but the problem for the Frenchman is that injuries have robbed him of so many options in midfield and attack.
Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin have just returned after lengthy lay-offs but Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky are sidelined.
In other Arsenal news, Manchester City have identified Aaron Ramsey as a summer target.