INTERVIEW: Mesut Ozil gunning for glory with Arsenal

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  • Mesur Ozil has been Arsenal's stand out performer this season.

    Mesut Ozil is one of the most gifted footballers in the Premier League, but after several injuries in his first two years at Arsenal the Germany international was unable to impose his qualities in the beginning.

    However, the playmaker is coming off the back of his finest campaign since signing for the Gunners three years ago, justifying the £42.5million (Dh225m) fee it took to prize him away from Real Madrid.

    Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger’s side, Ozil’s undoubted technical talents, polished passing and surgical vision wasn’t enough to propel them to Premier League glory last term as they finished second to Leicester City.

    But during a visit to the Arsenal Soccer School Dubai at The Sevens Stadium he pinpointed where they went wrong and talked about his signature celebration, how he feels Germany will fare at Euro 2016 in France and becoming a leader with his national side.

    You tweeted your delight at pipping rivals Tottenham into second in the Premier League, how do you assess last season overall?

    I think for us in the end it was important to qualify directly for the Champions League which is the second or third place. To be second in the last game of the season and be on top of Tottenham was also good for us and our fans. It was a good finish to the season.

    Of course there’s been a lot of speculation about Arsene Wenger’s future at the club, what have you made of it all?

    For me it’s important as a player  that I concentrate, play football and that I do my best for the team and myself. I’m not telling something about the future of a manager, it’s not my work to tell this for the club, it’s for the club to decide about. It’s not for me to decide.

    Arsenal were strongly favoured to finally end their 12-year wait for the league title, why is it you failed to achieve this aim?

    I think we dropped a lot of points that we shouldn’t have dropped like against smaller teams and I think that was the point in the season where as a team we weren’t strong enough to take just a point and go ahead.

    Especially after the Barcelona game we lost some points. That was a time when we weren’t good enough to just take points and go.

    How do you as a team prevent this from being the case again next season?

    It’s a long season and a lot of things must go right in the season. One of the things is players getting injured which is one factor definitely.

    On the other hand we just have to focus more and with stronger players maybe coming in be competitive for next season and we will see where we end up at the end.

    When you’ve scored this season you’ve done this celebration where you suck your thumb and make an ‘M’ with your fingers, what is the reason behind that?

    It’s for my brother’s daughter Mira, her name starts with an ‘M’ and she’s the first child from my brother and my first niece so she brought a lot of happiness to the family.

    I love her so much and I want to show her how much I love her so when I score a goal, I do this ‘M’.

    Mikel Arteta announced his retirement from football as he looks to move into coaching. He’s been linked with Man City to work under Pep Guardiola, what do you make of that?

    I think as a personality and character, he knows the Premier League very well and I think he will be successful
    if he goes on to be a manager and works on that side of the pitch.

    You now switch your attentions to Euro 2016 in France with Germany, as world champions, are you considered the favourites?

    I think we are favourites, or at least one of the favourites. That’s why we go there of course to win the cup.

    With the international retirements of Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker, do you feel there is a greater emphasis on you to be a leader the national team?

    I think I’ve now been with my national team for a long time. I’ve got experience but we have a good team as a whole and we are operating very well. After the World Cup we lost some important players but we are still strong and have young players to compensate for that who can help us be successful in France.

    You played in the 3-2 defeat at the hands of England in Berlin earlier this year, what impressed you most about the current Three Lions crop?

    I think it’s like in the Premier League in that the teams never give up. Against England in Berlin we were 2-0 up and yet they came back to get a 3-2 victory and that shows they have character and how strong they are mentally. That’s what I saw that night and that’s what I can say about the English team.

    I think they will be one of the favourites for Euro 2016 but besides England there are other teams like France, Italy and Spain who are always very strong.

    What about the host nation, what do you make of their chances?

    We know France at home are a very strong, strong team with good players. We know it won’t be easy to play against them but we also played against Brazil in Brazil so the home teams always have the fans behind them and have extra power and potential with themselves but as Germany as a national team we’re prepared to play against anyone in the world. We just focus on playing our football.

    Finally, your ex club Real Madrid are in the Champions League final against Atletico, who is your pick?

    Of course Madrid because there are a lot of my friends still in the team so I wish my friends the best to win.