Arsene Wenger has lambasted critics of Mesut Ozil and has claimed that the Arsenal star is not a lazy footballer.
The German international has come under much criticism from his own supporters for his lack of defensive work rate since his arrival from Real Madrid in 2013, but one clip that surfaced from Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City last Sunday particularly angered fans.
Ozil’s pressing is a thing of beauty pic.twitter.com/1YmTYWuT2p
— Daniel Harris (@DanielHarris) 18 December 2016
However, his manager has come out in defence of the playmaker, insisting that he does a lot of unnoticed work.
“I don’t give [Ozil] leeway – when the team has no possession he has to do his job like everybody else. Usually he does it well.
“He suffers more when we don’t have the ball and at City we didn’t have the ball enough, but unfortunately if you want the ball you have to win it back.
“He is a guy who works much harder than people think – his body language goes against him sometimes. We are a team who wins it back high up with Sanchez and Ozil, and he does his job very well.”
WhoScored’s Martin Laurence also highlighted that Ozil’s statistics for winning the ball in the final third were more than impressive, even if his numbers when it came to tracking back were not so complimentary.
Özil does not make many tackles but, when you analyse how often he wins the ball in advanced areas, the German is pulling his weight. Having won possession in the attacking third 16 times this season, Özil is level in second in the league with Sánchez. Given that Sánchez has played an extra game, it’s harsh to suggest that Özil doesn’t contribute defensively.
Are supporters of the Gunners being too harsh on Ozil? Perhaps, but the 28-year-old will remain a target whilst at the club for his defensive work.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.