LONDON: Arsene Wenger says Mesut Ozil holds the key to Arsenal’s hopes of winning the Premier League for the first time in 12 years.
Ozil’s superb run of form has been the catalyst for Arsenal’s climb to the top of the Premier League table heading into 2016.
The 27-year-old German midfielder has been immaculate in recent weeks and has already notched up a league leading 16 assists this season.
The latest came in Monday’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth, with Ozil then adding the second goal himself.
“He is a complete athlete. I also believe he has grown in stature and takes responsibilities and leadership in the team,” Gunners boss Wenger said ahead of Saturday’s clash with Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium.
“On that front he has improved tremendously and looks determined to lead the team compared to when he arrived.
“I think he plays in a position that suits him well.
“This season he was not stopped by injuries and I believe that he arrives at an age — 27 — that you think ‘it’s time for me to really be efficient in every single game, and I want to enjoy every single game’.”
Arsenal continue to nurse frailties of their own, as shown by their 4-0 Boxing Day drubbing at Southampton, but the Bournemouth win was enough to take them top of the table on goal difference after former leaders Leicester City could only draw 0-0 with Manchester City.
Leicester lost 1-0 at Liverpool prior to Tuesday’s goalless stalemate with City, but manager Claudio Ranieri says that his players are determined not to let their early-season momentum peter out.
“We’ve had a fantastic half-season, it’s unbelievable what we are doing and we must continue,” said the Italian, whose team welcomes Bournemouth to the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
“We will fight right until the end and we want to win. If we give 100 percent, then we accept every result.”
Manchester City, three points off the pace in third place, continue to oscillate between the sublime and the ridiculous and have gone 10 league games without recording back-to-back victories.