Arsenal's record-signing Mesut Ozil is failing to match the standards of his midfield colleagues and must work harder to prove he was worth the £42.4m outlay, according to ex-Gunners stalwart Stewart Robson.
Ozil returned to the Arsenal starting XI against Aston Villa on Monday night following a shoulder injury, completing 90 minutes as Arsene Wenger's side returned to the top of the Premier League thanks to goals from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud.
The 25-year-old operated in his favoured central position but was at times on the periphery of the match, with Wilshere the star of the show for Arsenal in central midfield.
Robson believes that Ozil has attracted some negative attention from Gunners fans for his lack of effort when Arsenal are without possession, insisting that the German playmaker supreme poses a tactical problem when forced to play out wide by injury or rotation.
In a recent appearance on ESPN press pass Robson gave Ozil a B grade for his start to life at the Emirates, before claiming: "In recent weeks [Ozil] has been the worst midfield player for Arsenal. Other players have done much better, been more effective than him. I think the Arsenal crowd are suggesting his work rate hasn’t been particularly good.
"He has a problem. When he’s out on the left hand side, when the opposition’s right-back starts to get forward, [Ozil] doesn’t want to go back. That means one of the [Arsenal] midfield players has to go [out of position] to defend out there.
"Ozil’s had a good season. Don’t get me wrong. But he hasn’t been the outstanding player for Arsenal."
Statistically Ozil's first five months in the Premier League have been extremely encouraging, with four goals and eight assists to show for 16 appearances so far this season.
Gunners boss Wenger will now hope Ozil can find top form towards the business end of the campaign, as Arsenal continue to fight for silverware on three fronts.