Per Mertesacker says Mesut Ozil has become so crucial to Arsenal that they try to pass the ball to him “every single time” they start an attack.
Ozil has recorded an incredible 15 assists in 16 Premier League appearances this season after setting up both of Arsenal’s goals in their 2-1 win over Manchester City on Monday night.
Mertesacker says his fellow German is the Gunners’ “solution” to breaking down teams in the final third.
“He is vital for us,” Mertesacker told Kicker. “We want to get him on the ball in the final third, that is what we’re trying to do every single time. Ozil is the main threat and he gives us a good pass at the right moment and he can see the difference, so we try to find him.
“That is the solution for us, to expose the back four, and then he is really dangerous when he gets into that pocket and plays the ball behind.”
Arsenal opened up a four-point gap over Manchester City with Monday’s win, but they remain two points behind Leicester City at the summit ahead of a trip to Southampton on Boxing Day and then home games against Bournemouth and Newcastle over the festive period.
“It is going to be difficult and we need to stay concentrated,” Mertesacker said. “The Christmas period is the most important now and we are sliding into it. It is up to us to keep that consistency.”
The Gunners will have to make do without Alexis Sanchez, who will now not return until January 10 at the earliest, but Mertesacker insists they cannot use the Chilean’s absence as an excuse for any slip-ups.
“We need to find solutions,” the centre-back added. “That is how we approach the season and every single game.”