Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has leapt to the defence of Mesut Ozil, insisting the Germany international is a crucial team player.
Ozil, who cost Wenger £42.5million in September 2013, has come under fire from some sections of Arsenal supporters who have been frustrated by his offerings to date.
Former Real Madrid midfielder Ozil will be eager to impress on his return to his native Germany on Tuesday as Arsenal take on Borussia Dortmund in their UEFA Champions League group stage opener.
Wenger, who also defended Jack Wilshere following Saturday’s 2-2 draw with reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, slammed Ozil’s critics, urging those who have a negative view of the player to watch the game again.
“People always have this kind of attitude about him,” Wenger said. “He worked hard against City and he played quite well.
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“You see a good Ozil when you watch the game again. Then you realise his timing, his quality of the pass and something you can be frustrated during the game but you must not overreact.
“When you watch the game in a cool manner, you see what a good player he is. I have so many offensive players. I give him freedom to play outside and inside and he likes that.
“It is not easy but Ozil is a team player and he takes it very well.”
Ahead of the trip to Dortmund, Wenger was concerned to see Arsenal surrender their lead against City, claiming they lost their way after right-back Mathieu Debuchy was stretchered off.
“It is the only concern I have,” he admitted. “We could not kill the game off. We got a blow at 2-2 and we were closer to losing.
“It was unbelievable. We switched off. Was it psychological from Debuchy’s injury? We did not look the same team, we looked lost.”