The Gunners’ German defender sees a fellow countryman playing with a smile on his face again, with form rediscovered by a divisive figure
The arrival of Mikel Arteta at Arsenal has breathed new life into Mesut Ozil, says Shkodran Mustafi, with the German playmaker rediscovering his form because he is enjoying his football again.
A World Cup winner has not been in that state of mind for some time.
Arsene Wenger was a big fan of a creative talent that he invested heavily in, but Unai Emery never really took to a mercurial performer.
Questions were asked of Ozil’s future throughout the Spaniard’s reign in north London, despite Arsenal having tied him to a lucrative contract.
Emery’s departure delivered clean slates for all concerned at Emirates Stadium, with certain players taking full advantage of that.
Ozil is considered to slip into that category, with the 31-year-old finding a spark under another coach that has full faith in him and one that wants to play an eye-catching brand of football.
Mustafi told reporters of his fellow countryman: “Mesut is a good friend of mine and I know him very well.
“I knew him before his time at Arsenal and I know what he is capable of. For him, and a lot of other players, the change that we had with the boss helped him a lot, as it helped a lot of other players.
“When the team is performing well, it is easier when everyone knows how we want to play. You can focus on your job and you don’t have to care about a lot of other things because everyone is doing their job and knows what to do. You can focus on yourself.
“For him, now, because we want to play football, we want to play attacking football, it suits him. He enjoys himself and when he is playing like he has in the last few games it helps the team.”
Ozil was unable to inspire Arsenal to three points in their most recent outing, as they were held to a 1-1 draw on home soil by Sheffield United, but an immediate opportunity to make amends will present itself to the Gunners on Tuesday when they take in a derby date with Chelsea.
Mustafi, who has faced plenty of questions of his own this season, is looking to take things one game at a time in an ongoing bid to break out of a mid-table slump.
He said: “We have a lot of games still to go this season and we just need to go from game to game.
“From the beginning of the season, you have everything in your hands because then everyone starts with zero points. But at the moment we do not have everything in our hands.
“When you are first or second, you want to look at the table — and you enjoy looking at it — but at the moment it is not important to look at the table.”
Arsenal sit 10th in the Premier League table at present, 10 points adrift of the top four and qualification for the Champions League without having to emerge victorious in an ongoing bid for Europa League glory.