Arsene Wenger has defended Mesut Ozil after the German attacking midfielder faced a lot of criticism following Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Manchester City and backed him to respond on the pitch.
The 28-year-old was the target of criticism from many fans as they claim he didn’t display very good play to win the ball back from Pep Guardiola’s men.
Some also criticized him for not doing enough in dictating the tempo of the game offensively.
“To be fair I did not hear or listen to all the criticism we got after the game,” Wenger said at his press conference ahead of their match against West Brom on Boxing Day. “But we have to accept that. We have to live with that.
“People analyze and have their opinion. And I think that’s normal, and we have to respond. Mesut Ozil is an important player, he’s a big player, and big players always respond to criticism on the pitch.”
Mesut Ozil’s body language has caused many to wonder if he is a hardworking player, many fans have labeled him as a lazy player when it comes to defensive duties.
Arsene Wenger as however disagreed with the idea that he was the one who gave Ozil the freedom to play as he wishes.
“I don’t give him leeway when the team doesn’t have possession, he has to do his job like everybody else,” Wenger said. “And usually he does it well. Of course, his main strength is when we have the ball.
“He suffers more when you don’t have the ball. And at City, he suffered more than others because we had not the ball enough. But unfortunately, if you want the ball you have to win it back.”
Mesut Ozil has played a big part in Arsenal’s high pressing game so far this season; he is tied with Alexis Sanchez in second place for players who have won the ball back the most time in the final third of the pitch in the Premier League this season.