Arsenal legend Martin Keown has warned Mesut Ozil to ‘stop blaming everybody else and take a look at yourself’ after he claimed he was being used as a scapegoat for the Gunners’ poor results.
Ozil hit the headlines this week for breaking his silence on his recent struggles on the Emirates Stadium and attempted carjacking terror.
Speaking to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, the German hit back at his critics and vowed to remain at the Emirates until at least 2021, when his contract expires.
During the wide-ranging interview, he appeared particularly peeved at criticism he has received from former Arsenal players, as well as claims that he struggles against ‘the big clubs’ and too often blames poor health for missing games, saying:
“It always happens that an ex-player stands there on TV and criticises me. Others just continue the theme and it gets in everyone’s heads. If we don’t do well in a ‘big’ game, it’s always my fault. If that’s true, how do you explain our results in the ‘big’ games when I wasn’t involved? I’m not the only player in the team!”
He was perhaps talking about Keown, who has been a vocal critic of the 31-year-old playmaker and his continued absence from Unai Emery’s team.
Ozil has made just two appearances for Arsenal this season and has not even made the matchday squad on five occasions – including their last three games in a row.
And Keown has responded to the World Cup winner’s comments and explained his criticism of the German, insisting it is not personal and that he wants to see Ozil succeed in a Gunners shirt.
But he says ‘it’s up to him’ to put the work in, saying the ‘Invincibles’ squad would have likely ‘got him by the throat’ by now over his poor attitude.
“Former players love the club, it will always be my club, and when I see somebody who I don’t feel is giving everything for the shirt then I want to question that,” he told talkSPORT host Jim White.
“It’s something we can’t escape from with Ozil.
“To be honest, I think if he was in our dressing room a few players would have had him around the throat early on because of his body language.
“I know we can have that languid look, but something has happened. Are we saying Emery is wrong not to play him?
“Nothing would please me more than if he came back into the team and started to play and was completely committed, I want to see that. No one is against him.
“What’s stopping him from doing that? He has to take a look at himself, it can’t be everybody else’s fault!
“Is he setting a good example? He’s a senior player now and if you’re a young player, and there are a lot of young impressionable men at that club, they need to see a role model in Mesut Ozil. They need to see him working, grafting, and deserving an opportunity to get back in the group, and I think that’s disappeared this season.
“As a senior player I would make sure the youngsters would follow me, I would graft and work, give everything I could, be collective and help the group.
“I wouldn’t be talking about me, saying ‘I’m not playing now so don’t blame me’. No – it’s about the collective, it’s not about you.
“I have every sympathy this time around, because of what he went through in the attempted robbery with him and Kolasinac, nobody should have to endure that and it’s taking him a long time to get back into some shape.
“But I don’t see him saying anywhere that he’s desperate to play. For me, the oxygen every weekend was to be in that first team and I would really bust a gut in training to make sure I was in that team. I want to see that from Ozil.
“He has the ability to get back in, that’s not in doubt, but this is about his work level and he’s not totally committed at the moment.
“Look at the players in front of him, look at the riches of resources he can feed the ball to now, but he has to want to do it.
“I’m just being balanced here. He’s a wonderful player, he’s a World Cup winner and he can offer so much. But if he’s not going to run around and graft, I’d rather he wasn’t there at all.”