Graeme Souness believes Mesut Ozil must work as hard as he did against Tottenham on a consistent basis.
Ozil was named match-of-the match by Sky Sports for his performance in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Tottenham. The 29-year-old put in an industrious display where he pressed the Spurs defence and funnelled back into midfield when he had to.
Souness feels that while Ozil’s quality with the ball cannot be questioned, off the ball his lack of work rate is noticeable. Hence, according to the pundit, the German international must work hard in every game.
“Ozil was fabulous today and in his post-match interview he was struggling for the word ‘compact’ and he is not always like that in his play,” Souness said, as reported by Team Talk.
“You cannot criticize Ozil’s quality when he has the ball. He is up there with anyone you can name; he sees a pass and he can deliver what he sees.
“The criticism arrives on his shoulders when they don’t have the ball. He’s lethargic, he does not sprint to get back in and he doesn’t sprint to close people down and when it is not going well for Arsenal that jumps out at you.
“You won’t find a team in modern football who have been successful that did not have 10 outfield players who worked hard when they didn’t haven’t the ball.
“Ozil has to grasp it, he’s at that age where he has to understand. They should play that video (win over Spurs) every day next week when they come into training.”
Anyone who has watched Ozil play for Germany and for Real Madrid will have seen a player who knows that he has to work hard. The Spurs performance wasn’t a case of the penny dropping with him. He’s always known when and how to defend well without the ball.
He had already played that well several times for Arsenal, especially in the FA Cup run last season. The Gunners, as a whole, need to work harder defensively in every game they play, not just Ozil.
It’s clear that they’re capable of doing so, especially when they commit to a game plan.