Mesut Özil is, thanks to his languid style, an easy target.
The German has been attacked once more following Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool, with Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United man Gary Neville leading the assault.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mesut Ozil take responsibility for the rest of his team,” Neville told Sky Sports viewers after the game. “I’ve seen him have good games, where he passes the ball well, gets involved and gets assists but doesn’t get enough goals.”
This seems an odd criticism of Özil on a night where he touched the ball more times than anyone else, something he also managed in the second half with Arsenal chasing the goal to win the game.
— Oscar Wood (@Reunewal) August 24, 2015
Özil also played the most passes into very dangerous areas, but Arsenal couldn’t find the finishing touch. No other player played as many (three) key passes as Özil, who was playing without the pace of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott that he loves to feed.
Mesut Özil attempted 21 passes into the deep zone (25 yrds from goal), 9 of those into the very deep zone (15 yrd). Highest ## by a distance
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) August 24, 2015
“The experience was in the front of the pitch, Olivier Giroud, Sánchez and Özil – they’re not the type of players that will take responsibility for the players behind them,” Neville said.
Meanwhile on BBC Radio 5 live, Steve Claridge called Özil Arsenal’s “weak link”.
“Özil gave the ball away at least six times and never once did he react to try and get it back,” Claridge said. “That’s a dangerous precedent to set and if I’m one of his team-mates it’s quite depressing actually.”
Özil’s ability on the ball is rarely questioned, but his work rate is scrutinised. Monday night saw him attempt twice as many tackles as workaholic Alexis Sánchez, but don’t let that get in the way of a good narrative.
Confirmation bias unfortunately plays a huge role, and pundits are allowed to get away with complete lies. Maybe watching the game more closely, or even understanding it better, would prevent ridiculous opinions from being spread.