Mesut Ozil polarises opinion and should be judged on his performances in bigger games, insists Graeme Souness.
Ozil put in a man-of-the-match performance for Arsenal as they came from behind to beat Leicester 3-1 on Monday Night Football, their 10th straight win in all competitions.
Ozil has had his critics during his five years at the Emirates, but has equally shown the class that warranted a bumper contract extension earlier this year.
Souness insists the German has a footballing brain and technique few others possess but believes he has not put in enough big-game performances over his career.
On MNF, Souness said: “He does polarise opinion. I think when Arsenal are not dominating games, are not on the front foot, he’s absent. The big players, on big money, that come for big transfer fees, with the utmost respect to Leicester, these are not the games you want to be judging them on.
The big players, on big money, that come for big transfer fees, with the utmost respect to Leicester, these are not the games you want to be judging them on.
“It’s when they play in the Champions League latter stages, or when they play against rivals for Champions League spots or going for the Premier League title. The big games that really matter, where the big players are generally the ones who make the difference and win the games.
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“I don’t think in his career he’s done that enough times. We’re getting carried away with this tonight, we’re talking about it, and we should say nice things because his football was excellent, he has a football brain that not many have and a technique few people have.
“He does go missing in games when Arsenal don’t dominate the ball, and in the big games, I would question if he has turned up.”
Ozil’s role under new Arsenal manager Unai Emery is still up for debate, having been substituted against Chelsea earlier in the season and left out of the next game against West Ham.
Also speaking on MNF, Jamie Carragher said any criticism of the Arsenal midfielder is because he has seen glimpses of world-class quality from Ozil, and craves more.
“He’s the big-name player, he’s signed a huge contract. I think earlier in Emery’s reign he brought him off at Chelsea, and wasn’t happy.
“We were critical of him and wondered whether he had a future in the No 10 position. It was looking early on that Emery maybe was not sure. Ozil gets the big bucks, so you want the big performances. That was a big performance.
“There’s no doubt he is a special talent. I know there are Arsenal fans who think sometimes people like ourselves have something against Mesut Ozil, but it’s not that, we want to see this! That is unbelievable! You want to see more of that!”
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