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Wenger unsure if Ozil embraces 'challenge to be criticised'

Goal.com logo Goal.com 06-05-2017

Arsene Wenger believes Mesut Ozil attracts more criticism than most Arsenal players, but is unsure over the attacking midfielder’s ability to handle it.

The Germany international was heavily criticised again for his display in the Gunners’ defeat to Tottenham on Sunday, having faced the ire of media and fans several times this season.

Ozil, 28, told Goal that he does not like to be centre of attention, adding, “Some people look at my body language and think I don't care. But that's me. I won't change my body language or my style of play drastically anymore.”

But as Arsenal’s most creative star, Wenger admits he carries a great deal of responsibility and may be affected by the pressure placed on him by external sources.

“Just to criticise Mesut Ozil’s performance does not reflect exactly what happened on the pitch last Sunday," said the Gunners boss.

“I believe that recently he has put a lot of effort in. He was a bit like the rest of the team, not physically at his best.

“We gave a lot on the previous Sunday [in the FA Cup win over Manchester City], the Wednesday [versus Leicester] and we had not completely recovered on Sunday. He was one of those players.

“It’s always been like that. The big players get more criticism and his style is a bit more fluid, less aggressive but that doesn’t mean he wants it less than others.

“I don’t know [if it suits him], I’m not sure. I think he embraces the challenge of big games. Does he embrace the challenge to be criticised? I’m not sure.

“I think he did fight very hard in recent games. We looked at his physical performance and he was at a very high level. But like the rest of the team on Sunday he was below what he had produced recently.

“Ideally you want all your players to be at their best in every game, so when they don’t achieve that you are of course frustrated.

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“But we know we are only human beings and that you have to accept there are ups and downs.”

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In his recently released autobiography, the former Real Madrid star recounts a team-talk in which Jose Mourinho mocked and insulted him for his poor tackling, though he admits it forced him to consider a lot about himself.

Asked if he needs a similar discussion from his current manager, Wenger says he has had talks with him but will not reveal what was said.

“Yes, we had some good conversations with him as well. But he has not had time since to write a book so you haven’t read about it. I won’t tell you what I tell him.”

With his contract expiring at the end of next season, Ozil is yet to sign a new deal, and Wenger says there is a lot to be considered before his future will be decided.

Wenger replied with a simple “no” when asked if any offers had come in for Ozil, adding: “Before we spend big money, we analyse all the aspects of commitments because it’s not only Mesut Ozil and Sanchez we have to extend, we have others to extend.

“We have to make sure we have the resources available to extend the other players who we need to be successful. For example, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is part of it.”

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