by Lewis Ambrose

Former Arsenal player Paul Merson is fairly outspoken, and has taken to defending Mesut Özil in an interview with The Sport Review.

Possibly because of his £42.5M price tag, Özil has been targeted by fans and the media despite contributing heavily to ending Arsenal’s trophy drought with consecutive FA Cup wins since he signed for the club in September 2013.


Former Gunner Merson, who now works as a pundit for Sky Sports has said that criticism of Özil is unfair.

“Mesut Özil is different class. He is world class,” said Merson, who scored 99 goals during his Arsenal career.

“If he ran around like Alexis Sanchez, everybody would think he’s the best player in the world. Everybody is different.”

The problem largely seems to be the perception that Özil doesn’t care, he doesn’t graft. The truth is he has a languid look about him while actually covering as much ground as any other Arsenal player. He runs intelligently, rather than being gung-ho about it.

‘Merse’ , who won the league with Arsenal in 1989 and 1991, himself shared the same mercurial sort of talent, and that is what made him a fan favourite during his time at Highbury.

“If you’re having a bad time and you don’t run around a lot, people think you don’t care. That isn’t the case. 

“For example Robbie Savage was loved everywhere he went. He worked hard. He wasn’t an Özil.”

I, for one, am glad to have a player who doesn’t share anything with Robbie Savage. The difference is Özil has a huge amount of talent, he can impose himself on a game quietly, with little fuss.

“If you’re not playing well and you run around a lot, you’ve always got a chance. 

“But I think he is world class.”

Ending the Arsenal trophy drought speaks for itself. We’ve been at a different level since we signed Mesut Özil, and that’s because he is different class.