Mesut Ozil has become “a ghost” and has lost the desire to be one of the world’s best players, according to former Arsenal double-winner Emmanuel Petit.
Ozil started a Premier League away game for the first time since October on Boxing Day as Arsenal were held to a disjointed 1-1 draw at Brighton, and was withdrawn at half-time having failed to make an impact.
The German had been left out of Unai Emery’s squad for successive trips to Manchester United, Southampton and Bournemouth in recent weeks, with the manager suggesting the player hasn’t been in the right frame of mind to be considered for selection.
And there has even been talk that Ozil’s continued absence from the side is a sign that he will shortly be allowed to leave the Emirates.
Petit, who won the Premier League and FA Cup in his first season at Arsenal, believes the former Germany international no longer has the mental strength necessary to be considered amongst the world’s best.
“Where is the Ozil who was one of the best players around, making so many assists and goals?” Pettit told PaddyPower. “I think he has lost his desire on the pitch, it’s not there any more.
“Ozil was taken off at half-time [against Brighton]. I’m a big fan of his, but he has been a ghost for two years.”
The World Cup winner, who scored in the 1998 final as France beat Brazil to claim a first world crown, was also critical of the current Arsenal crop’s defensive frailties.
Petit played at the heart of a Gunners side that conceded just 17 Premier League goals during the 1998-99 season – eight few than Emery’s team have leaked at the halfway stage this term.
“In defence they are weak, they’re average,” he said. “They make individual and collective errors. Sometimes you have to laugh. They injuries are not an excuse, most of the players who stepped in are internationals.
“The quality they had been showing vanished (at Brighton) and it became obvious what their weakest link was – the defence.
“I don’t know what’s going on with some of these players. During the long unbeaten run you thought Arsenal are back on track.
“They need to raise their game mentally on Saturday. I’ve seen glimpses of improvement compared to previous years but you can’t perform for just half an hour against Liverpool. You need to be fully switched on for 90 minutes, especially away from home.
“If Arsenal go to Anfield thinking they can just keep plodding away the way they have been, it’s over – they’ll leave the stadium with three or four goals against them.”