Belfast Telegraph

Talisman Ozil likely to stay with us, says Wenger

Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsene Wenger insists Mesut Ozil is keen to stay at Arsenal and believes the German is playing the best football of his Gunners career.

Ozil scored with a sumptuous volley as Arsenal laboured to a 1-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday.

The 29-year-old has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona in recent weeks as his contract at Arsenal expires at the end of the current season.

Like his team-mate Alexis Sanchez, Ozil has yet to agree fresh terms at the Emirates Stadium as Wenger remains determined that both will not be sold in January - even though the pair could then walk away for free in the summer.

While Sanchez came close to moving to Manchester City in the last window and is widely anticipated to depart Arsenal at some point in the next six months, Wenger thinks Ozil is where he wants to be.

"I believe he wants to stay, he is not to be convinced (to sign a new contract)," he said.

"You want nobody to leave and you see where we stand on that. But at the moment, it's very difficult. Until the end of the season we know what it is, but after that I cannot tell you."

Ozil's winner on Saturday was a moment of class from a player who has divided opinion among the Arsenal fan base since his big money move from Real Madrid in 2013.

But Wenger feels Ozil is now playing the best football he has seen from the World Cup winner since he joined.

"Yes, certainly," he replied when asked if Ozil was currently in his best run of form in an Arsenal shirt.

"I think he takes responsibility and that's what you want from him. He is more mature, he guides the team very well, he does a lot on the ball and your heart rate always goes down when he has the ball.

"I would say more important is the quality and the influence he has on the collective game, rather than his goal.

"You cannot wait to score a goal like that every week, but you can play like he plays usually every week. That is more important. If he adds that to his game, it's even more important."

Next up for Arsenal is a Carabao Cup quarter-final against West Ham before Liverpool visit north London on Friday night.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds thrashed Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield earlier in the season and goalkeeper Petr Cech admits it was one of the most galling nights of his long and storied career.

"The game we played at Liverpool was probably the worst game we played all season," he said.

"We got battered 4-0. We need to make sure this time we are ready. It was probably one of the worst experiences I have had as a player.

"When you stand there at 4-0 down... and you can see it could have been even more because the performance was that poor.

"I think we improved after that game. I thought we showed a good reaction from everyone.

"In the next game, we played Chelsea away, we got a clean sheet, we got a 0-0. It was probably a good slap and showed that in this league when you are not ready you can get hammered.

"We gave them three points in the first game and we can't give them more points."

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