Mertesacker's latest statement explains Ozil's dip in form?

Arsenal's towering centre back has lifted the lid on the adaptation required for a foreign Premier League import.

Clubs within the Premier League who recruit from other elite-level divisions across Europe often afford signings an adaptation period, sometimes up to a whole season, in order to fully adjust to a new league, a new country and a new culture.

For Mesut Ozil, who began the current campaign so wonderfully, with a virtuoso display against Stoke City on match-day 5 where he created seven chances, provided two assists and enjoyed 52 accurate passes after just 80 minutes of football, that adaptation period did not seem to be necessary.

However, the German playmaker's form has diminished as the season has gone on, begging the question whether he would benefit from a sustained break from the first team, perhaps even up to a hat-trick of matches.

In a talkSPORT exclusive, Arsenal's fast emerging cult hero Per Mertesacker has spoken of the winter break, of what his compatriots would be doing in Germany and that it is vastly different in England as the sport does not stop until May.

'It feels absolutely strange to go back to Germany and see ex-team-mates who tell you they are on holiday over Christmas – they can switch off completely, which is really something,' he said.

'Here, you are always focused and always have to be ready for the next battle, so you can’t celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve like I did in Germany nut you have to change your mental approach, otherwise it kills you in January.'

Mertesacker, 29, joined the Gunners in the summer of 2011 and interestingly explained that he only really fully adjusted last summer: 'My first two years here, I just got sick out of nothing because there were so many games.'

Could this be the cause of Ozil's form dip? Had manager Arsene Wenger rested Ozil for a three match period, for argument's sake, between the goal-less draw with Chelsea on December 23 and the 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on January 4, would he be more effective than he currently is… or, was, considering he performed admirably against Manchester United on Wednesday evening.

Mertesacker, though, offered Ozil and the club's fans reason to be optimistic: '[Eventually] you get used to it. It strengthens you and the squad if you can cope with such difficulties. I’ve suffered a lot in the past two years, but now I feel able to handle those situations. I have to take the positives out of it, and I am proud of playing in England.'

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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