Lukas Podolski: The Arsenal star who holds the key to the top four
Arsenal legend Lukas Podolski believes Mesut Ozil holds the key to their top-four challenge this season
Lukas Podolski believes Arsenal will finish in the Premier League’s top four if Unai Emery plays Mesut Ozil regularly.
The Arsenal boss has urged the former Germany international sparingly throughout the Premier League campaign to raise questions about Ozil’s long-term future.
Ozil has been limited to just 17 starts in the English top flight this season, which would have been unheard of during his time under Arsene Wenger’s management.
The 30-year-old has still managed to contribute a respectable four goals and two assists in the Premier League this season to help their push for a top-four finish.
Ozil was named man of the match in Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Newcastle United at The Emirates last week – and he also started as captain in the 1-0 loss to Everton on Sunday
And former Arsenal striker Podolski believes Arsenal will secure a top-four finish if Emery is willing to play Ozil on a regular basis.
“Mesut’s a good friend of mine, and a top player who can make the difference on the pitch,” Podoloski told FourFourTwo.
“He can get Arsenal back into the Champions League places. They’re definitely better with him in the starting line-up – he’s got that eye for a special pass.
“They have to finish in the top four. For a club of Arsenal’s size, there’s no excuse for going three seasons in a row without Champions League qualifications – they need Ozil to help them.”
Arsenal – who are currently fifth in the table – have failed to finish in the Champions League spots in the last two seasons.
The Gunners could qualify for Europe’s premier club competition if Emery’s side win the Europa League this term.
Arsenal will take on Napoli in the Europa League last eight, which should prove a difficult tie for the north London side.
Emery took over the reins from Wenger last term.