Per Mertesacker says compatriot Mesut Ozil is well placed to deliver his best form in his ‘first full season’ at the Emirates.
The German international missed Arsenal’s opening games of the 2013/14 season as he waited to move from Real Madrid and then missed pre-season last year after Germany’s World Cup success before suffering a knee injury that sidelined him for three months from September onwards.
Having watched Ozil crank up the style in the second half of the last campaign, Mertesacker says Arsenal can squeeze even more from the midfielder, so long as he maintains his fitness.
“He is one of our key players,” the BFG said of Ozil in Singapore.
“Him in good fitness, him at his best – there’s a lot more to come from him and the second part of last season when he came back from injury, you could see how important he is for us as a team with his key passes, being in between the lines and always carrying a threat to the opponent.
“We need to find him and make him better, then he can show his real potential.
“The key will be not to get any injuries or niggles. He’s a good player when he’s fully fit but obviously he needs to gain that little extra, that confidence, to play his best.
“We will see – I’m pretty confident that he has his best and his first full season in front of him.”
Ozil sat out yesterday’s 4-0 victory against a Singapore Select XI leaving Jack Wilshere to take his place just behind the attack.
The role, long pinpointed as the midfielder’s favoured position, is arguably the most sought after at the Emirates with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey also equipped to play it.
Acknowledging the competition, Wilshere told Arsenal.com yesterday that he’s enjoying the competition for places.
“It’s unbelievable and it’s down to us as individuals to make that place ours,” he noted.
“That’s going to be tough, of course it is, but I’m up for the challenge and I’m sure all the other boys are as well.”
The England international also revealed he’d talk to Arsene Wenger about where he’ll play this season, before the first game against West Ham on 9 August.
“I haven’t spoken to the boss [Wenger] about what plans he has for me — but I will do before the start of the season.
“At the moment, I’m just concentrating on getting fit. I had a good end to the season and I just want to keep it going.
“That’s why I wanted to come back in early for pre-season because I felt I missed too much of last season and wanted to give myself the best opportunity to get fit.
“I asked the boss — I said, ‘Boss, can I come back early?’ I wanted that because I missed quite a lot of last season. The competition is strong in midfield so, yes, it’s down to us as individuals to make that place ours but I’m up for the challenge and I’m sure the other boys are as well.”