Mesut Ozil responds to over-the-top criticism of shirt-swap incident

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Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has responded to critics of his decision to swap shirts with Geoffrey Kondogbia at half-time of last night's clash with Monaco with a statement that rings true, surely there was something better to talk about on a night of high drama at the Stade Louis II?

The Gunners came within a whisker of becoming the first team to overturn a two-goal deficit away from home in a Champions League knockout tie, but ultimately goals from Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey weren't enough to avert an agonising exit from Europe's premier club competition on away goals.

Ozil was at the heartbeat of a spirited fightback that came up just short, but despite producing one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt the focus was on accepting Kondogbia's invitation to exchange shirts, with Paul Scholes among the pundits quick to seize upon a chance to slam a £42.4m playmaker that continues to divide opinion.

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Ozil puts Scholes in his place

Immediately after the miracle in Monaco narrowly failed to materialise Ozil was asked by German television why he swapped shirts with an opponent at half-time, which for some reason seems to annoy some supporters who must feel it shows a lack of commitment to the cause.

Ozil replied with a short, simple pair of sentences that are very hard to disagree with. In an interview quoted by Bild the maestro said: "Maybe I should have given him the shirt in the tunnel. But seriously guys, is there nothing more important to discuss for a knockout game than a shirt swap?"

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Scholes has an axe to grind

Arsenal fans tuning in at home were probably left fuming by an attack on one of their star performers by Scholes, who worked as a pundit for ITV alongside Emmanuel Petit and Lee Dixon.

Scholes not only blasted Ozil for swapping shirts but implored Arsene Wenger to take off one of his biggest creative influences for good measure.

Clearly Ozil's languid, almost aloof style that focuses on spacial awareness and technical prowess rubs Scholes up the wrong way, but its beginning to grate that he picks the Gunners star out for a hammering every time he's asked to analyse Wenger's side.

Ozil is almost the ultimate Marmite player in a sense, but there's no denying his impact on an Arsenal side that have looked largely rejuvenated in recent months, minus that embarrassing slip-up in the first leg against Monaco.

The 26-year-old has recovered from a serious knee injury and finally looks at home in a roving central role at the Emirates, so there's every reason for him to ignore Scholes and critics elsewhere and believe he's finally on track to making a success of his club-record move from Madrid to North London.

Arsenal fans, do you care that Ozil swapped shirts with Kondogbia at half-time? Does Scholes have a point or should his opinion be ignored? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!

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Paul Scholes
Premier League

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