Former Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Stefan Effenburg believes that Steven Gerrard’s assessment of Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil was correct.
Ozil came in for heavy criticism after Arsenal’s defeat at Stoke last month. Former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, who was working as a pundit on BT Sports, branded the 28-year-old a liability due to his lack of defensive contribution, reports the Express.
“I just worry about his body language and his reaction when the ball is turned over,” Gerrard said on the day. “He offers his teammates nothing away from defensively and away from home he’s a liability.”
Now, Stefan Effenburg, who earned 35 caps for Germany during the 90s, has joined in the criticism. He believes that Gerrard’s assessment was correct and that Ozil must improve.
“I have seen matches with Mesut where I say: ‘he must do more’. I remember those matches against Bayern in the Champions League. He disappointed many people there – including [Germany manager] Joachim Low,” he wrote in his column for T-Online.
“Steven Gerrard said he would let his team down and be a burden in matches away from home. You can’t say he is completely wrong. Ozil has to see and realise that. It is not like he is 20 years old and a young player. He turns 29 in October.
“You wait for an improvement in that area for years. You hoped there would be a development, but it hasn’t happen.”
Everyone had a stinker against Bayern Munich last season. It seems unfair to single out Ozil for not doing more where everyone could have. Likewise, the former Real Madrid midfielder has provided many goals and assists away from home, so he’s hardly a liability.
His defensive contribution can be questioned. We know full well that he can shy away from tackles and doesn’t enjoy tracking back into his own half. Few attacking players do. Even the super hard-working Alexis Sanchez has rarely tracked a player back into his own half.
So while Ozil needs to play his part defensively, it’s a stretch to say he’s totally useless. Nor does it feel right that he’s constantly singled out when other players are just as culpable.