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Mesut Ozil has come in for some stick this week following our defeat at Manchester City.
Arsène Wenger accepts that Sunday’s game wasn’t Mesut’s finest moment in an Arsenal shirt but, at the same time, only Eden Hazard has won the ball more in the final third this season.
The manager did not divulge what he and Ozil discussed in the wake of the City game but he stood up for the playmaker at his press conference.
“I don’t give him any leeway when the team doesn’t have possession,” said Wenger. “He has to do his job like everybody else and usually he does it well.
“His main strength is of course when we have the ball and he suffers more when we don’t have it. At City, he suffered more than others because we didn’t have enough of the ball. Unfortunately, if you want to have the ball, you have to win it back.
“He is a guy who works much harder than people think and his body language goes a bit against him sometimes. We are a team who win the ball back high up the pitch very well, which means he and Alexis do their part of the job very well.
“We had a deficit in winning the ball back in the middle of the pitch at Manchester City. When you do not win the ball back immediately, you suffer after because you have to win it back a little bit deeper. That’s certainly what people highlighted in our game.
“To be absolutely fair, I did not hear or listen to all of the criticism we got after the game. We have to accept that, we have to live with that. People analyse the game and have their opinions, and I think that’s normal.
“We have to respond. Mesut Ozil is an important player, a big player, and the big players always respond to criticism on the pitch.”