Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski has made it very clear that he feels critics have taken their hounding of under-fire Mesut Ozil too far in recent weeks, insisting that the £42.4m man is "fantastic" and capable of making the most of his considerable talent at the Emirates sooner rather than later.
Ozil has attracted widespread criticism for a string of sub-par performances since the turn of the year, particularly after missing a penalty against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last month.
The 25-year-old returned from a thigh injury against Stoke City and was deemed fit enough to join Podolski and Per Mertesacker on international duty, with Germany hosting Chile in a friendly tomorrow night.
Podolski was asked about Ozil's form during a pre-match press conference for the Chile match and came out all guns blazing in support of the ex-Real Madrid man, backing a close friend to come good when it counts over a long-term basis in North London.
The forward is quoted by ITV.com as telling the German media: "Criticism is part and parcel of football.
"I think Mesut is a fantastic player. He's going to give a lot of joy to Arsenal and to Germany.
"He's still young and a good friend of mine. He's played many great games and he will play many more.
"I think some of the criticism was a bit exaggerated and unfair at times."
Arsenal's German international trio will need to be at the peak of their powers to earn a place in Joachim Low's 23-man squad for this summer's World Cup finals, with the Nationalmannschaft possessing a plethora of options and rightly deemed one of the favourites for the South American showpiece.
Before that showpiece Ozil must focus on regaining his early-season form at a crucial stage of the campaign, with Arsenal still fighting for silverware on three fronts despite a wobble against Stoke City last weekend.