Mesut Özil has lifted the lid on how he has turned around his Arsenal career, revealing he is now the first man to show up at training and the last to leave.
Özil, 26, endured a tumultuous first season in English football last term following his club record transfer from Real Madrid. After an initially bright start, the Germany international faded dramatically and was subjected to heavy criticism from supporters and pundits alike.
A knee injury suffered in October 2014 that sidelined him for three months appeared to compound his woes. But Özil has since played an instrumental role in the Gunners' attack since his return, playing an almost ever-present role in the club's recent 10-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League and assisting both goals in their FA Cup semi-final win over Reading.
Most strikingly, the former Real Madrid schemer, who struggled with the physical demands of the league last term, has completed 90 minutes in all but three of the club's games since March.
Speaking to dfb.de, Özil explained his spell on the sidelines gave him the chance to reassess his strengths and weaknesses and most pertinently, address the physical deficiencies in his game.
"It is true, I have to work even harder now in order to reach my goals," he said. "I'm the first to arrive at practise and the last to leave. I am training as hard and ambitiously as I have never done before in my life. I gained a kilo in muscle mass, as I go the gym daily now. My body feels more stable and I feel fresher. You definitely need that over here in England."
Özil and Arsenal's focus now shifts to Old Trafford where they take on Manchester United on Sunday. The Gunners' 1-0 defeat to Swansea City on Monday gave Louis van Gaal's side slim hope of clawing their way back into contention for automatic qualification for the Champions League group stages next season.
With just two points separating the sides, Özil wants his side to replicate the performance that saw the club dump United out of the FA Cup in their own backyard in March.
"Playing against Man Utd in the Premier League is always special. We will look to put on a brave performance, as we did back in March in the FA Cup encounter. If we do that, we have all chances to secure a direct Champions League qualifying spot."