Our performance against Olympiacos in the Champions League was unquestionably diabolical, and former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has laid into both Arsene Wenger and the players following the game, as reported by the Evening Standard.
He was particularly critical of record signing Mesut Özil, who he branded pathetic for his failure to get a block on the Greek side’s first goal.
We have struggled with set pieces in the past, and have been regularly castigated for our failure to deal with more physical teams. This still seems to be the case, and Redknapp is just the latest to lay into us for it.
“They have a problem with set-pieces,” Redknapp said.
“Look at them on Tuesday. Who did they have who can head the ball and command the box? They had two players: Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel. Who else is there?
“They have tiny midfielders, small full-backs and Theo Walcott up front. When you have a keeper who also isn’t first choice, you have an immediate concern over who will deal with set-plays.
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“Watch Mesut Ozil coming out to try to get a block on the first goal. It was pathetic.
“The ball comes out to the edge of the box and he makes the most half-hearted effort to close it down.
“If someone is going to shoot from the edge of the box, you want your midfielders or defenders to throw themselves at it to do everything for the team, whether you cost £4million of £42m”
Obviously blocking shots isn’t Özil’s main role in the team, and he certainly wasn’t the only player who didn’t have his best game on Tuesday night. Even luxury players like the German World Cup winner need to dig in sometimes though, and a solid team performance is far more important than individual talent – even with a player boasting the quality Özil does.
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Özil gets a lot of stick from pundits and the media, the majority of it undeserved. He has been getting more recognition recently, but is still one of the first to be blamed when Arsenal underperform.
Admittedly, the former Real Madrid star is the type of player who thrives when the team are in control, and struggles when our backs against the wall. We shouldn’t have to rely heavily on Özil for our defensive duties though, as that’s not his chief role in the side.