Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is confident fellow countryman Mesut Ozil will rise to the occasion in the FA Cup final against Hull City despite an inconsistent first campaign in north London.
Ozil arrived amid much fanfare for a record £42.4m fee from Real Madrid, and made an immediate impact with three goals and four assists coming in his first seven starts for the Gunners.
However, after an inauspicious start to 2014, Ozil's missed penalty against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 first leg sparked a downward spiral for the German international which was followed by a lengthy spell out with a hamstring injury.
During his absence Arsenal suffered defeats to Chelsea and Everton and drew at home to Manchester City as their Premier League title dream dwindled but his return has coincided with a winning end to the campaign – which secured a 17<sup>th consecutive season in the Champions League - and produced his first league goal since December.
Ahead of the showcase final at Wembley against Hull, Mertesacker is expecting Ozil to continue his recent resurgence, having seen first-hand the 25 year old's capacity to produce when it matters.
The defender recalled a time when when both players played for Werder Bremen in a 1-0 German Cup Final victory over Leverkusen. "He scored the winner, that's what I remember, and he's up for big games" Mertesacker said.
"We are happy that we have him back in our squad and available because you can see from the start that he is one of the best players in Europe and his contributions and his assists are vital for any club.
"I knew before [that] he would suffer at some moment in his first season, so he's fit again and he's got a few games under his belt.
"We [Mertesacker and fellow-German Lukas Podolski] tried to talk to him every day [after the missed penalty against Bayern Munich], we tried everything," he added.
"It's very important to keep his confidence high because when you go through that moment when you suffer a bit then you feel low. I think we had a good squad to encourage him. It's easier for me to explain in German to him what is going on and it will help him anyway.
"I think that he's improving with his English and that's very important so he'll start next season with much more confidence to play and to speak."
An ankle injury forced Mertesacker out of that German Cup final in 2009, with his only major final appearance coming a year later in a 4-0 defeat to treble-chasing Bayern Munich.
Mertesacker has achieved cult-status among Arsenal supporters, who regularly sing an expletive-laden BFG-inspired chant in tribute to the Germany international.
His committed style of play and his uncompromising 6 ft 6in frame – at odds with the sort of player regularly heralded in north London – are naturally among the attractions.
An appearance on Saturday at the heart of an Arsenal defence which kept 16 clean sheets this season sees Mertesacker's career at the Emirates Stadium turn full circle from a disastrous start after arriving as part of a trolley-dash from Wenger in the late summer of 2011.
"That was their idea to chant my name in a different way, it was not my idea," Meretsacker joked. "They try to get on with me. I had a hard first season but they always encouraged me and I have to give them credit.
"No matter what happened they always covered me, always backed me up and that gave me that bit of confidence.
"It's good to have a manager who picks you up in difficult situations, but when you're getting nervous when you get the ball they're just chanting your name all the time and that is the difference. It looks like we like each other.
"I think the fans like it when you play in your way, your honest way. You're not going to do anything stupid. I just kept going with my style of play and I think that's what they like as well."
Now among Arsenal's prized assets, Mertesacker hopes to have seen an end to the constant sales which undermined the club's progression during his early years in English football.
"There were a few years where we lost quite a few key players every single season and for this year we kept them altogether and we got some right additions.
"I think that has changed a bit - that we keep important players every single season. Eight players have extended their contract and the manager is likely to see the core is altogether and that has changed the belief and the togetherness and confidence so we think that we can achieve something with this group."