Mesut Ozil is in line for a shock inclusion in Arsenal ’s Premier League opener with Fulham next weekend after being handed a first start for six months.

The German had been frozen out by Mikel Arteta ever since Project Restart got underway last season and it was suggested he may never play for them in the top flight again.

But the midfielder, who is under contract until 2021, was handed a surprise start in the 3-2 pre-season friendly defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored both goals for the hosts but they were unable to avoid defeat in the behind-closed-doors exhibition match.

Now, Ozil could now be in with a chance of being involved in next Saturday’s Premier League opener at Fulham.

He made 23 appearances last season but did not feature in any of Arsenal’s final 13 games of the last campaign.

Mesut Ozil was handed a surprise start in the friendly against Aston Villa
Mesut Ozil was handed a surprise start in the friendly against Aston Villa

Indeed, he did not even make the match day squad for the final 10 games with Arteta thought to have lost patience.

The Spaniard was said to be looking into ways to offload the £350,000-a-week star to free up some finances for incoming players.

In August, Ozil expressed his desire to reclaim his place in the squad when he told The Athletic : “My position is clear. I'm here through to the last day of our agreement and I'll give everything I have for this club.

Mesut Ozil is out of contract at the end of next season

“Situations like these will never break me, they only make me stronger. I showed in the past that I can come back into the team and I will show it again.”

And with Arteta seemingly trying to work out what best system to play ahead of the new season, all may not be lost for the former Real Madrid man.

Ozil started in a strong line-up against Villa, with Alex Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe playing in the attack with Aubameyang.

The playmaker took to social media after the game to post an image of himself alongside Mathieu Flamini, with the caption “season prep is on”.

Arteta knows he cannot afford to take any more passengers as he looks to improve on his first season at the Emirates.

An FA Cup win was the crowning moment but the Gunners were well off the pace in the Premier League, finishing in eighth.