Belfast Telegraph

Mertesacker delight at Ozil form

German defender Per Mertesacker feels it is the little things which have helped Mesut Ozil settle so quickly at Arsenal.

Ozil, who has certainly hit the ground running since a club-record £43million deadline day transfer from Real Madrid, scored his first goal for the Gunners in their impressive 2-0 Champions League victory over Napoli on Tuesday night.

The next challenge for the German playmaker is a trip to West Brom, where Arsenal - who last week beat the Baggies on penalties at The Hawthorns in the Capital One Cup - will be out to consolidate their place at the top of the Barclays Premier League following a run of 10 straight wins in all competitions.

Ozil has joined a growing German contingent at the Emirates Stadium, with Lukas Podolski, currently sidelined by injury, and teenager Serge Gnabry also in Wenger's first-team squad.

It is a very different dynamic now from that which faced Mertesacker, 29, when he arrived into a whole new environment from Werder Bremen on deadline day in August 2011.

However, the 6ft 7in centre-half feels having such close relationships both on and off the field can only help move Arsenal forward.

"Mesut can play football, that is what his aim is to be here to do, so it is just the little details," Mertesacker said.

"It is things like how to get on (in London), how to come to the training ground, to get to whatever he wants to go. It is just a quick call or a text, you can help him out.

"I need to (help Ozil settle), because it is very important to get him into the squad quickly, so that he can adapt and play with freedom.

"That is what he is - his vision is enormous and with him we are more dangerous and can compete at the higher levels.

"We try to make it comfortable for him to adapt as quickly as possible and it fits.

"Against Napoli, you felt that he could play 90 minutes on a high level, he can make the difference at any time in the game.

"We are delighted to have him here and to help him to get into the team. He has shown that he respects our game and that he does fit in.

"We can expect a lot (more) from him in the coming weeks, you could see that we needed his contribution and he is the right addition."

Mertesacker has grown into his own role at the heart of the Arsenal defence alongside Laurent Koscielny, in a pairing which has kept club captain Thomas Vermaelen out of the starting XI.

"At first I was on my own here, with no Germans in the senior Arsenal squad, so it took me maybe one season to settle in completely," Mertesacker continued.

"I am delighted with my current form and my performances, but in football life changes so quickly, you have to be aware of every situation.

"We have a good and strong squad, if everybody is fit, the boss has a good selection.

"I think we now have a squad to compete at the high level and that is what we need to do in the coming weeks."

Arsenal came through their cup tie against West Brom with a very young side, but Wenger will use all of his experienced men in an attempt to record what would be a remarkable sixth successive Premier League win since losing on the opening day at home to Aston Villa.

While the Baggies will be on a high following their shock triumph at Manchester United last weekend, Mertesacker maintains Arsenal can head to The Hawthorns with good reason to be positive themselves.

"We are on a quite decent run away, so our confidence level is high at the moment," he said.

"We will try to continue the run at West Brom and keep our position in the table."

Full-back Bacary Sagna (hamstring) is a doubt, while midfielder Jack Wilshere is pressing for a recall having started on the bench against Napoli as Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky returned from injury, but Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott will both be out until after the international break.


From Belfast Telegraph