Per Mertesacker is used to the view from high up and, right now, it looks picture perfect. His country, Germany, have sealed their place at the World Cup finals in Brazil, having finished on top of their qualification group, and his club, Arsenal, are staring down from the summit of the Premier League. The big German can smile. "It feels good," he says.

Mertesacker, though, is consumed by what happens next; whether one, or ideally both, of his teams can take the decisive step. It has eluded them for longer than they care to remember. Germany have not won a major tournament in eight times of asking while Arsenal have endured eight years without silverware.

There are parallels between the Nationalmannschaft and Arsène Wenger's team. Both seek to play vibrant attacking football; they are chock-full of midfield options and appear to be on the brink of something special. They can also exhibit defensive vulnerability and are partial to the high-scoring thriller. Germany's 5-3 away win over Sweden on Tuesday followed last year's faintly ludicrous 4-4 home draw against the same opponents. Germany had led 4-0.

Mertesacker believes that the Germany squad is "getting better and better" while the same is true at Arsenal, partly on the back of the club's record purchase of the Germany midfielder, Mesut Özil, from Real Madrid. Mertesacker extols the virtues of consistency and stability yet it is when he talks of a narrowing of focus, a toughening of mentality, that he reveals where the improvement has to come.

Germany have reached the semi-finals, at least, of the past four international championships and they are synonymous with durability but, according to Mertesacker, they have fallen short. It has not been difficult to level the same charge at Arsenal.

"A lot of things can happen during a tournament and we know that quite well because we have reached every semi-final, so we know how it feels to be ready for the title but we didn't get it so far," Mertesacker said. "I think it was always a lack of focus and something at the end of the period.

"One thing we have learned in the last couple of years is that we have to stay focused until the end. We haven't proved yet that we are ready for the tournament [win], so something has been missing. To go on in the knockout stage is very tough and every opponent is getting much better and better. It will be a tough World Cup over there in South America."

Arsenal are a different proposition this season, Mertesacker feels, because of their transfer dealings. The previous two summers had been scarred by damaging player departures but there were none this time. Moreover, Özil signed, together with the defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini, who has been a revelation in his second spell at the club.

Özil, a card-carrying A-lister, has fired the belief in the stands and the dressing room, where he has swelled the German contingent, which already comprised Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Serge Gnabry. He has integrated smoothly into a squad where what Mertesacker described as the various international "blocs" complement each other. The scary thing, Mertesacker added, was that Özil would get much better.

"Our game hasn't changed, it's more that he [Özil] fits into it," Mertesacker said before Saturday's home fixture with Norwich City. "His progress is quite well at the moment and I think he will show more and more during the season. You can expect a lot from him.

"We have a few blocs. We have a French bloc, a Spanish bloc, a British bloc and a German bloc, so we are international-influenced and that is what Arsenal is all about. It's now about sticking together as good as possible and as much as possible. Arsenal wants to play international football and, when every player fits into that game, we can be successful.

"It's hard to say what is different but I think one point is that we didn't lose any player from last season. It was always a bit hard when we lost [Robin] Van Persie and Alex Song last season, and the year before we lost [Samir] Nasri and [Cesc] Fábregas. We kept the squad [this summer] and there is more quality to come. We have a few injured players who we hope are coming back soon."

These remain early days for Arsenal and the glass-half-empty brigade chunter about how the team has not yet faced a genuine rival in the league apart from Tottenham Hotspur, whom they beat at home. They will also point out that the club's return of 16 points from an available 21 pales when compared to the corresponding fixtures from last season, when they took all 21.

But that overlooks the sense of momentum, which has built since the middle of last March, when Arsenal beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the Champions League last-16 second leg, albeit to exit on away goals. For the tie Wenger dropped Thomas Vermaelen to bring in Laurent Koscielny as Mertesacker's central defensive partner and they have since been inseparable; one of the symbols of the club's new dawn.

"This is a good moment for me," Mertesacker said of his game at domestic and international level; he is also first choice for Germany. "We are top of the league and, with Germany, everything is now fixed for Brazil. It was a tough journey to go through. I will now focus on Arsenal because, when you want to stay on top, you have to be consistent. That is what we missed during my first two seasons at the club."