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'Ozil is a marked man!' - Arsenal star must use criticism as inspiration, says ex-Gunner Wright

7:40 PM WAT 16/08/2018
Mesut Ozil - cropped
The former Germany playmaker has endured a torrid few months, but must seek to put that in the past as the Gunners begin life under Unai Emery

The best way for Mesut Ozil to silence his critics is by starring in the Premier League for Arsenal this season, according to Gunners great Ian Wright.

The 29-year-old Germany international has endured a turbulent off-season that began with a divisive meeting with controversial Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

That audience spawned a significant backlash in his home country, one that only intensified following the national side’s shock group-stage exit at the World Cup in Russia as they looked to defend their title.

Further scrutiny of the playmaker led him to subsequently quit international duties, citing a perceived sense of racist treatment from the German Football Federation in his retirement statement, sparking another war of words over his conduct.

Ozil however has found sanctuary from the storm back at Arsenal and has been entrusted with greater leadership responsibilities by head coach Unai Emery at the Emirates Stadium as the club embarks on life after Arsene Wenger.

Speaking to Omnisport, Wright – who made 288 appearances for the Gunners in a seven-year spell between 1991 and 1998 – challenged the midfielder to improve on the patchy form that saw him net only four league goals in 26 appearances last season.

"He's somebody that is always getting a lot of criticism, and it's up to [him] to rise above that and try to perform in the way that people know he's capable of performing," the former England striker said.

"It's going to be difficult because he's a marked man. People know what he's capable of if you give him time and space, so they're not going to give him that, they're going to deny him that.

"It's up to him to try and find that space and try to make an impression on the game."

Initially starting out at Schalke in the Bundesliga in 2006, Ozil made his mark on the game after signing for Real Madrid in 2010, winning both La Liga and the Copa del Rey during his spell with Los Blancos.

He moved to Arsenal in September 2013 and has won three FA Cup Finals across five seasons to date with the Gunners.

He was also a member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning squad in Brazil, and featured in the final against Argentina.

Arsenal lost their opening game of the new Premier League campaign 2-0 to champions Manchester City at the Emirates and next face London rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on August 18.