Arsenal legend Martin Keown thinks that Arsène Wenger can no longer trust playmaker Mesut Özil, and claims that’s why he was left out of Monday’s Premier League clash with West Bromwich Albion.
Keown was speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live after Özil was benched against the Baggies on Monday, and said that whilst he doesn’t see any problem with Alexis, Özil can’t be relied upon, reports the Daily Star.
He said: “I think he loves playing football, Sanchez, I don’t see there’s an issue with him. Özil of the two players, are they going to sign, aren’t they, is the one I wouldn’t trust as much mentally, and I believe he’s not playing tonight because the gaffer really can’t trust him anymore.
“I think it’s a huge story that Özil doesn’t play tonight. If you look at their pre-seasons, Özil wasn’t in the German squad in the summer, he came back on the very first day of pre-season, and didn’t then start the season, there was a bit of suspicion around him.
“Last year he went missing for a couple of months and I think that’s his tactic in terms of getting away from the football club. I don’t know – but I have a feeling that he’s going to take his reliability away from selection.”
For me, this is a load of rubbish from Keown. What he’s saying is all speculation of course, but even when it comes to the facts he’s way off. For example, he claims that Özil was out for a couple of months last season, but that just isn’t true, as shown.
Other than the Liverpool match that took place during the playmaker’s extended holiday after Euro 2016, Özil only missed four league games last season. Two of them were in January, and took place within a three-day period, the other two were in March, and took place on March 4 and March 18.
That means that in total Özil missed 18 days of league football through illness or injury in the entire season, and made 33 appearances (32 starts) overall. That’s in addition to not missing a single Champions League game.
Then when it comes to Monday’s game, there was no reason to rush the midfielder back from injury for a match against West Brom. In my opinion, it’s not a “huge story” that he didn’t start, any more than it was when Alexis didn’t start against Bournemouth or Chelsea.
I feel this goes down as yet another case of selective memory from football pundits, and I don’t expect it to be the last.