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Wenger: It's Not Özil's Fault

After a whole bunch of criticism, Wenger defends his midfielder.

He really is quite gööd, you knöw
He really is quite gööd, you knöw
Clive Brunskill

Arsene Wenger is known as a man who speaks a bit...not cryptically, really, but he has an amazingly dry sense of humor that isn't often seen in the sports world, which results in comedy gems like "I didn't see it" or "(Player)? I've never heard of him".  It's rare that he directly addresses critics; his disdain for the modern football pundit isn't as violent as Sir Alex Ferguson's was, but it's definitely there.

Mesut Özil, as we all know, has had a challenging start to the season. A combination of somewhat ridiculous levels of price-tag driven expectation matched with Wenger's playing him out of his normal position has meant Özil hasn't got up to much this season, flash-wise; he's played, but he hasn't played as well as we saw in stretches last season. There has been increasing criticism of him from the all-knowing Twitterati, from the mainstream sports punditry, and probably from the guy who runs the Kwik-E-Mart down at the corner.

All this makes today's spirited defense of the under-fire Mesut Özil so extraordinary. To the quotes!

Wenger, though, rejected constant criticism of the 25-year-old, who remains an integral part of his plans. "Why should he be a scapegoat? For what? We've lost one game since 1 April. Let's be realistic," said Wenger, whose side travel to Aston Villa on Saturday.  "We have come out of a very difficult preparation period with decisive games. We had very difficult games against Besiktas. I don't know - a scapegoat for what?"

When looked at that way, he's got a great point - the Dortmund game was the team's first loss since April, which, dispiriting draws aside, is pretty exceptional.

He also had a small thing to say to the aforementioned chattering class:

"You have plenty of tacticians in the world who have managed zero games. You have to accept their opinion - they might be right, they might be wrong as well. They have to accept that.

Last but not least, Wenger called for everyone to get behind Özil, saying:

"They should not be concerned and just support him. I understand that you want your best players always to make the difference in every single game and we all go through periods where we are a bit less good," he said. "You help. A club is a union between players, supporters and directors. You have to be united and sometimes go through periods together where it goes a bit less well."

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that a few of Özil's travails this season are because of the way he's being played, Wenger is right. We're all Arsenal fans, we all want Arsenal to do well. Özil is a key part of the success of this team, and he deserves the support of the supporters. So, this weekend, instead of bemoaning what piece of grass he's standing on or running towards, be happy he's an Arsenal player and shout, yell, clap - or whatever type of support you normally practice - for him and for Arsenal instead.

I guess what I'm saying is, watch sports for the positives, not to reinforce your negatives.