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Wenger Calls Ozil Out For Not Working Hard Enough Defensively

Arsène Wenger says that Mesut Özil is not a special case when it comes to the dirty work of pressing and winning the ball back.

The Arsenal midfielder came under heavy criticism on social media after clips of him walk and not closing down surfaced after last weekend’s defeat at Manchester City.

“I don’t give him any leeway when the team doesn’t have possession,” Wenger explained.

“He has to do his job like everybody else and usually he does it well.

“Mesut Özil is an important player, a big player, and the big players always respond to criticism on the pitch.

“His main strength is of course when we have the ball and he suffers more when we don’t have it.

“At City, he suffered more than others because we didn’t have enough of the ball.

“Unfortunately, if you want to have the ball, you have to win it back.

“We have suffered a little bit physically in the last two games.

“We were twice 1-0 up and started the game well. I felt we have given a lot in Europe, in the Premier League.

“We were a bit less fresh mentally to absorb the pressure of two big away games having just come back from Europe.”

Wenger tried to say that statistics are a better indicator of Ozil’s effort than the eye saying that Özil is second in the Premier League, tied with Alexis Sánchez, for winning the ball back in the final third of the pitch.

The fact the two have similar efficiency in that regard might appear surprising given their contrasting styles, but Wenger insists Özil’s demeanour is often misread.

“He is a guy who works much harder than people think and his body language goes a bit against him sometimes.

“We are a team who win the ball back high up the pitch very well, which means he and Alexis do their part of the job very well.

“We had a deficit in winning the ball back in the middle of the pitch at Manchester City.”