Paul Merson came out with more anti-Özil comments ahead of the weekend’s clash between Arsenal and Watford, even though the facts go against everything he’s saying.

Merson (and a lot of pundits) seem to have it out for Mesut, and it’s not exactly clear why.

Of course, they always give ‘their’ reasons, but, generally, the explanations don’t add up.

For example, in his latest rant, Merson says Özil “doesn’t work hard enough”, and “I have seen players with much less talent than him have a bigger impact on games”.

I looked at the claim about how hard Özil works in a previous article after those comments, and Merson’s comments seem to be nonsense. The German works just as hard as many of the players around him who get free passes. That’s including Alexis Sanchez, who runs or sprints less than Özil, and walks or jogs more.

As for the claim about Özil’s impact on games, a recent BBC study found that the World Cup winner was one of the most important players to the Gunners, making the top three at the club. That means that when Özil is out, Arsenal struggle; he clearly has an influence, whether Merson can see it or not.

Other than Alexis Sanchez, whose impact pundits are always keen to stress, and Laurent Koscielny, who undoubtedly improves the team when he’s available, who else in the Arsenal team has contributed as much to the Gunners’ success in the past few years? Olivier Giroud maybe?

At the very least you’d have to put Mesut top-five, and for some seasons he is certainly higher. For example, in 2015/16 I’d argue he was clearly the Gunners’ most influential player, as Goal pointed out at the time.

Özil contribution

So a talented player joins Merson’s former club, works as hard as the rest of the team, contributes to the goals and assists regularly, helps bring three trophies in four years after zero in nine, and Paul’s reaction is to call for him to stay on the bench?

It doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps it’s as simple as the fact that Özil has been part of a very successful Germany team whilst England have floundered against the likes of Iceland. Maybe Merson and the rest of the pundits in this country haven’t forgiven Mesut for taking England apart a few years ago:

Whatever the case may be, I’m hoping that the German can close his ears to all of the media talk and get back to his best on the pitch, creating chances for fun as he loves to do.