Mesut Ozil enjoying best run of form for Arsenal due to taking more responsibility, says Arsene Wenger

James Benge
Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsene Wenger believes taking on greater responsibility is helping Mesut Ozil enjoy the best run of form in his five seasons at Arsenal.

Ozil, whose contract expires at the end of the season, scored the only goal in Saturday’s win over Newcastle, an inspired volley hit as he was running backwards, to secure a first league win in four games for Arsenal.

Though the Gunners themselves have struggled early in this season, Ozil’s quality has not been in doubt, particularly over recent weeks, where he has shone in wins over Huddersfield and Tottenham.

It has been enough to convince Wenger that the 29-year-old is playing at his highest level since a £42million move from Real Madrid in 2013, not least because Ozil is now “guiding” an Arsenal team in which he is among the senior players.

“More important than the goal is the quality and influence he has on the collective game," Wenger said. “You cannot wait to score a goal like that every week but you can play like he does every week.

“Is this his best run of form at Arsenal? Certainly. He takes responsibilities and that’s what you want from him.

“He’s mature. He guides the team very well. He’s a lot on the ball. Your heart-rate goes down when he has the ball.”

The worry for Arsenal whenever Ozil enjoys a run of form is what it will do to those who are closely monitoring the German international’s future in North London.

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Barcelona, Manchester United and Inter Milan have all taken an interest in Ozil, who is free to negotiate a contract with foreign clubs from January onwards, but Wenger is convinced his playmaker wants to stay at Arsenal.

“You want nobody to leave,” he said. “Until the end of the season we know what he is but after that I cannot tell you.

“I believe he wants to stay. It’s not [that he needs] to be convinced. Let us do the talks and let’s not talk about it.”

Saturday’s nervy win over the Magpies saw Ozil deployed in a deeper role within Wenger’s 4-3-3, often playing closer to deep-lying midfielder Granit Xhaka than the frontline.

It is a position that Santi Cazorla gravitated towards in his later years and one in which Wenger believes he can cause a lot of damage.

“He links up the play. We had problems to build up the game so he comes a bit deeper and [Alex] Iwobi goes in his position.

“We still have a good occupation of the pitch so we know as well the passing starts well.”