From scapegoat to saviour: Reinvigorated Ozil can salvage Arsenal's season

The German maestro provided his second consecutive assist in the league as Arsenal secured a crucial three points against West Ham


Mesut Ozil is a player who will always receive the brunt of criticism if his team underperform.

Ozil answers critics in West Ham win

There have been times this season when the German international hasn’t produced enough on the pitch but there have been more occasions on which Arsenal have played to his strengths.

His critics in the media over the past few weeks include Gunners legend Thierry Henry, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville and fellow Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, all of whom have lambasted Ozil’s lack of productivity in key games.

Mesut Ozil Theo Walcott Arsenal

Following the Champions League demolition job at the hands of Bayern Munich in February, when Arsenal collapsed to a 5-1 loss at the Allianz Arena, the 28-year-old’s agent came out publicly to say that his client is being made a scapegoat.

"Football is a team sport and Arsenal are not performing well as a team,” Dr Erkut Sogut told BBC Sport

“Eleven players were on the pitch but Mesut was singled out for criticism. Was he the reason that Arsenal conceded five goals?”

Hazard the PL's most decisive player

In the second half of Wednesday night's Premier League clash with West Ham, the Emirates Stadium bore witness to a rejuvenated Ozil. A player who has missed a chunk of games through illness and injury was finally able to show what he’s all about.

His goal in the 58th minute was placed neatly into the bottom right-hand corner of Darren Randolph’s post and a pin-point assist for Theo Walcott 10 minutes later all but secured the three points for Arsene Wenger’s side, who ultimately ran out comfortable 3-0 victors.

Wenger reminded concerned Arsenal fans in his programme notes that his under-fire team are not facing a relegation battle but he watched the Gunners struggle to carve out a clear cut chance in the first half.

Arsenal celebrate

However, it was the much-maligned Ozil who came to their rescue.

The former Real Madrid ace has some of the most impressive distance covered statistics at Arsenal and runs more kilometres per 90 minutes than the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny, yet there are those who still feel he doesn’t work hard enough and that his body language is too negative.

They may be onto something in relation to the latter, with the player himself having previously admitted that he has made a conscious effort to adopt a more positive, pro-active demeanour.

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However, irrespective of body language and unfair criticism, Ozil reminded everyone why he is more than a ‘luxury player' on Wednesday night and Wenger’s admission that the German was affected by the Champions League exit shows just how much of a winner he is beneath the surly exterior.

Indeed, his decisive performance offered further evidence as to why Arsenal need to sign their maestro to a contract extension this summer.