Arsenal favourite Tomas Rosicky believes Mesut Ozil’s work ethic is criticised by fans and pundits in England simply because he doesn’t make enough tackles.
Ozil has regularly come under fire for his work rate since joining Arsenal in 2013 from Real Madrid for a then club record fee of £42.5m.
Indeed, back in May the attacking midfielder was heavily criticised by former Gunners defender Martin Keown after Arsenal lost to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final.
‘He wasn’t fit to wear the shirt for me tonight,’ said Keown. ‘He isn’t giving everything and there is a lot more under the bonnet.’
Such criticism has followed Ozil throughout his time in England, but his former team-mate Rosicky believes it is unfair.
The 37-year-old spent three seasons playing alongside Ozil at Arsenal and has claimed the assessment that he does not work hard is false.
‘I know Mesut very well. I played a lot of games with him. If you always see his stats, he is not the one who is not working,’ said Rosicky.
‘Obviously what the people maybe lack with him, mainly in England, is that he is not the one who is going into the tackles or something like that.
‘But if you see it in general – he is working hard. You can see his stats, what he has every game.
‘Obviously I don’t know about this season [as I am not playing or training with him], but that’s what he used to be like and he was a hard worker – even in training. I know him.
‘You have to see things in perspective, he is someone who can decide the game by himself.’
Ozil was also heavily criticised for his performances with Germany at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The 29-year-old has since retired from international football, citing the ‘racism and disrespect’ he has faced in Germany over his Turkish roots.
Rosicky believes such a decision could play into Arsenal’s hands as now one of their key players can rest and train with the club during international breaks.
The Gunners certainly felt the benefit of that against Newcastle United last week as Ozil scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory at St James’ Park.
And Rosicky is confident both the club and player will have a long-term advantage going forward.
‘It can be tricky at the start for him, but again we will see his development in the new team,’ Rosicky added.
‘Because I think in the long term it can be positive for him that he will suddenly have a break now and he can rest and train properly, and prepare himself for the Premier League.
‘I think he will still be a key player for Arsenal and, if he is playing well, Arsenal will be playing well.
‘I am looking forward to seeing Arsenal more and I hope they will grow.
‘Arsenal has a new manager and a completely different style, so the next games will show us more how the team is developing.’