Arsenal: Martin Keown going bonkers with Mesut Ozil

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on August 27, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on August 27, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /
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Martin Keown has stated that Arsene Wenger no longer trusts Mesut Ozil. The former Arsenal defender is going bonkers and has absolutely got it wrong here.

Mesut Ozil is an extremely divisive figure among Arsenal circles. His languid style leads many to criticise him for being lazy and apathetic — this is a criticism that sometimes has credence, and, at others, is merely confirmed by the existence of itself –, his body language is often down-heartening and disinterested, while his performances on the pitch have not been what was expected of a club-record £42 million signing.

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Nevertheless, while many around Arsenal may doubt his qualities, I believe that Arsene Wenger has never questioned the influence, the importance and the talent of his star midfielder. Ozil is the quintessential Wenger player: agile and quick in thought, wonderfully creative on the ball, incisive with his passing, technically brilliant, slight in stature but subtle in movement. These are all traits that Wenger heralds in his players.

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But according to Martin Keown, a man whose opinion I trust and has a detailed understanding of Wenger’s working and thinking, seeing as he played under him at Highbury, Ozil no longer has the trust of his manager. Speaking with BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday ahead of the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, Keown questioned the mentality of Ozil and his standing in the squad:

"“I think he loves playing football, Sanchez, I don’t see there’s an issue with him. Ozil, of the two players, are they going to sign, aren’t they, is the one I wouldn’t trust as much mentally, and I believe he’s not playing tonight because the gaffer really can’t trust him anymore. I think it’s a huge story that Ozil doesn’t play tonight.  If you look at their pre-seasons, Ozil wasn’t in the German squad in the summer, he came back on the very first day of pre-season, and didn’t then start the season, there was a bit of suspicion around him.”"

Unfortunately, in this case, I think that Keown is way off the mark. While I can accept that he is a little more difficult to trust mentally, I do not necessarily believe that Wenger ascribes to that thought. He has staunchly defended the German in the past when criticism has come.

I’m also not sure as to why Keown states that Ozil did not start the season. He did. In fact, he played all 270 minutes of Premier League football in August before the international break.

And finally, there was a very good reason as to why he didn’t start against West Brom on Monday, which was what fuelled Keown’s comments in the first place: he had suffered from inflammation in his knee, which kept him out of the trip to Stamford Bridge two weekends ago and the subsequent midweek Carabao Cup match against Doncaster Rovers, only returning to training later that week. With a Europa league tie and Premier League match within the next six days, it was quite easy to see why Wenger was not willing to rush Ozil back into the fold.

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Now, Ozil is far from exempt from criticism. He is a player with many faults and flaws. However, suggesting that Wenger does not trust him, and then using examples that are not true or have reasonable explanations to support your points does not quite add up. Unless if Keown has some inside information, he has got this completely wrong.