Arsene Wenger: Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is one of the world's best
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger has dismissed the idea that Arsenal are a better team without Mesut Ozil, describing him as "one of the best players in the world."
Ozil has not started an Arsenal game since Sept. 9, with the Gunners have won five of six games since and their 0-0 draw at Chelsea was said by some commentators to show that they are more defensively solid without him.
But with the Germany international ready to make his comeback at Watford on Saturday, Wenger said: "People go quickly to conclusions.
"Last year we played the last 11 games and won 10. We beat Man City in the FA Cup semifinal and Chelsea in the final and he played.
"We live in a world where people have opinions, and sometimes they are right and sometimes they are not always proven right on the longer period.
"You need players who have quality, and Ozil is one of the best players in the world."
On Thursday, Wenger said it was possible that Arsenal could sell both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in January to avoid losing them on free transfers next summer.
But he remains hopeful that Ozil at least can be convinced to sign a contract extension, adding: "I genuinely believe he wants to stay, but I'm always positive about that."
Both Ozil and Sanchez could start on the bench at Watford, with the former only having returned to full training this week and the latter just back from international duty with Chile.
The duo have been playing behind the striker in Wenger's 3-4-2-1 formation, but Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere have also flourished in the role in recent games.
"They are all players who play in this similar position and it is very interesting because it gives me a lot of opportunities to keep them focused and refreshed," Wenger said.
Wilshere could make his first Premier League start of the season at Vicarage Road, but Wenger said: "If the competition was less ferocious, he is ready to play.
"I wouldn't be scared to play him. He is nearly back to his best now."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.