Aston Villa vs Arsenal: Arsene Wenger defends Mesut Ozil after German World Cup winner is made a 'scapegoat'

Ozil has been criticised for his performances this season after a poor showing since returning from the successful World Cup campaign

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Arsene Wenger has issued a strong defence of under-fire midfielder Mesut Özil after the German was criticised by fans for his poor start to the season.

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The 25-year-old is yet to open his account for the 2014-15 season and hasn’t played any part in a Gunners goal, with new signing Alexis Sanchez taking the plaudits having scored three times already.

Özil was put in the shadows somewhat last season by team-mate Aaron Ramsey who took the club’s Player of the Season after a number of match-winning performances, but Wenger famously said that the World Cup winner would flourish in his second season and win the PFA’s Player of the Year award.

Having missed the first match of the season due to his participation in the World Cup, Özil has failed to fire in the subsequent four matches that Arsenal have played this season. If Özil is to live up to Wenger’s prediction , he’s got a lot of work to do to catch up those players that have hit the ground running.


"The criticism is unfair because it's post-World Cup,” said Wenger. “It takes a few months for them to get back to their best.

“Fans need to be patient. You want your best players in every game but you have to be united and go through hard periods.

“Why should Özil be a scapegoat? We've lost one game since 1 April [in the Premier League]. We had very difficult games against teams like Besiktas.

“Everybody judges players on one game but football is played with many ups and downs.”

Wenger also revealed that their defensive injury crisis has been eased slightly by the return to fitness of Calum Chambers and Mathieu Flamini. The Gunners went into the 2-0 Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday with just three recognised first-team defenders fit, so 19-year-old Hector Bellerin was called up by Wenger to make his European bow at right-back even though he is yet to feature in the Premier League.

There was also good news on Jack Wilshere’s ankle injury that he picked up at the Westfalenstadion, and Wenger confirmed that the England midfielder is ok to play this weekend to dismiss fears he was facing another lengthy spell on the sidelines given his previous injury concerns.

“Chambers and Flamini return for [the] Aston Villa [match],” said Wenger. “Wilshere is okay.”

An update of injured right-back Mathieu Debuchy is also expected later today, with reports that the Frenchman could miss up to three months with ankle ligament damage picked up in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City last weekend.

Debuchy writhes in agony after suffering ankle ligament damage

Debuchy took to his Facebook page to confirm that he had not suffered a broken bone in his foot, but had torn a ligament which would keep him out for the foreseeable future.

“We'll know about Debuchy tonight after his examination whether he'll need surgery,” added Wenger. The Arsenal manager also reserved special praise for Chambers, with the 19-year-old defender impressing since completing a £16m move to Arsenal from Premier League side Southampton.

"I like his attitude and his intelligence. I like that he came into the team and just played his game. I'm impressed,” admitted Wenger.