Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hailed Mesut Ozil as the “complete athlete” and praised the German’s new-found leadership qualities.
The outstanding form shown by Ozil has been the catalyst to the Gunners’ climb to the top of the Barclays Premier League table heading into 2016 as they go in search of a first title in 12 years.
The 27-year-old club-record signing has been immaculate in recent weeks and has already notched up 16 assists in the league this season.
The latest came in Monday’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth, with Ozil then adding the second goal himself after neat interplay with Olivier Giroud.
With the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla sidelined, and Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey only just back from injury, Ozil has shouldered a lot of the creative responsibilities for the Gunners and Wenger feels the former Real Madrid man has developed as a result.
“When he was injured for a long period he worked very hard physically,” he said of Ozil.
“He is a complete athlete. I also believe he has grown in stature and takes responsibilities, leadership in the team and 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. He plays in a style of football 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 host struggling Newcastle on Saturday looking to hold on to top spot, which they currently occupy only on goal difference as surprise package Leicester continue to breathe down their neck.
Having made four alterations from the 4-0 Boxing Day defeat at Southampton for the visit of Bournemouth, Wenger admits he is likely to make more changes against Steve McClaren’s men.