Former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski insists that Unai Emery should continue to play Mesut Özil as he feels he is vital for the club's objective of finishing in the top four.
The Gunners are currently fourth in the Premier League, one point behind their north London rivals Tottenham, ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea due to their superior goal difference and are two points clear of sixth-placed Manchester United - with a game in hand on all three.
They have won three of their last four league games, with Özil starting in each of those victories. The German has not always been first choice under Unai Emery but Podolski claims that his former club and country team-mate can help Arsenal finish in the top four.
"Mesut is a good friend of mine and a top player who can make the difference on the pitch. 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," Podolski told FourFourTwo magazine (via football.london).
"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 qualification- they need Özil to help them."
Podolski revealed that he still follows Arsenal closely and he reminisced about the great memories he had during his three-year spell with the Gunners, speaking fondly of the rapport he built with the fans.
"I check the results on my phone, watch games and stay in touch with former team-mates. It was an incredible three years and I really mean that," he added.
"I loved my time at Arsenal. We won a couple of FA Cups after a long break and I can remember travelling through the London streets on an open-top bus.
"My relationship with the fans was good, so I know I can always go back there. They'll probably say 'Hey Podolski, come over and have a beer with us!' I left a bit of my heart at Arsenal. It's the same with Cologne and Galatasaray. I never burned any bridges - quite the opposite in fact."