Chelsea legend and BBC Sport pundit Pat Nevin believes Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made a mistake by not replacing Mesut Ozil with Santi Cazorla in the No. 10 position against AS Monaco on Tuesday night.
The Gunners won the match 2-0 but were eliminated on the away goals rule, while Ozil’s performance appears to have divided supporters.
The much-maligned Germany international once again failed to shine in a big match, according to Nevin, who feels Cazorla would have been a better option behind striker Olivier Giroud as the match progressed.
Nevin: Mesut Ozil was poor
"I wonder about the decision to leave Mesut Ozil on the pitch in that number 10 position,” Nevin said on BBC Five Live. “He was poor, his final ball wasn't good at all. He had to be brilliant tonight, core to everything.
“Ozil was very average tonight. He tried hard but I wanted Santi Cazorla in there. If I have any complaint about Arsenal tonight, that's it."
Ozil blasted for swapping shirts
Ozil was also criticised for his decision to swap shirts with Monaco’s Geoffrey Kondogbia at half-time. Some believe the 26-year-old was wrong to agree to the shirt-swap - including all three pundits on the ITV panel: Lee Dixon, Emmanuel Petit and Paul Scholes - while others were keen to defend Arsenal’s record signing.
John Cross, the Mirror’s main Arsenal man, described Ozil as “energetic” and even went as far as to say the left-footed playmaker produced an “instrumental display” at Stade Louis II - an assessment totally at odds with Nevin’s.
Arsenal fans are too quick to defend Ozil
While it’s true Ozil has become an easy target, it’s also true that many people of an Arsenal persuasion are too quick to defend the World Cup winner.
Ozil has not lived up to his £42.4 million price tag since arriving at the Emirates Stadium in the 2013 and has flattered to deceive in almost every so-called big match.
However, his performances have picked up since his return from injury earlier this year, and he even did enough to earn himself Arsenal’s Player of the Month award for February.
Some would claim that Ozil is quietly effective; a player who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because most fans are unable to see what it is he actually does on the pitch.
We should see the best of Ozil next season
But the reason people are hard on Ozil is because they expected much more from the player who lit up La Liga with Real Madrid for three seasons.
At the Bernabeu, he was arguably the best No. 10 on the planet - and he has failed to replicate those sublime performances on a consistent basis at the Emirates Stadium.
He has time on his side, though, and next season could - and should - be the year we finally see the best of Mesut Ozil in an Arsenal shirt.
Arsenal fans: do you feel Mesut Ozil has been made a scapegoat - or do you believe he has deserved criticism? Have your say in the comments below!
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