Arsenal midfielder Mesut Oezil: Stop pointing the finger at me
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Oezil has spoken of his disappointment that he was often singled out for blame when the Gunners were under-performing.
Oezil, whose side face Sheffield United on Tuesday morning (Singapore time) in the English Premier League, has often had to contend with criticism of his style of play and perceived lack of work ethic.
Last season, the 31-year-old managed only five goals and two assists in 24 EPL games, and was seemingly not fitting into manager Unai Emery's system.
"If we don't do well in a 'big' game, it's always my fault," the Germany international told The Athletic.
"If that's true, how do you explain our results in the 'big' games when I wasn't involved? There's no real difference. I know people expect me to offer more, dictate play and make the difference - I do, too - but it's not that straightforward.
"Some of our opponents are simply better than us. Also, what is a 'big' or 'small' game? In the EPL, anyone can beat anyone. Look at Wolves and Norwich beating Man City, or Newcastle and West Ham beating Man United.
"So you can't say my good performances only came in 'small' games because these games don't really exist. The intensity is there in every match and often the 'small' teams raise their standard against the 'big' teams."
Oezil has played just twice this season in all competitions, with his campaign disrupted by injury. He was also the target of an attempted armed robbery in London alongside teammate Sead Kolasinac.
He opened up about the July 25 incident, saying he feared for his wife's safety.
Footage on social media showed Bosnian defender Kolasinac chasing off two moped attackers who were wearing helmets and dark clothing.
"Sead's reaction was really, really brave because he attacked one of the attackers," Oezil said.
"I was scared about my wife. I was worried they were going to open my wife's door and they tried, so I reached across her to keep it closed."
Although nobody was harmed physically, the incident shook up his wife, the former Real Madrid player added.
"My wife wanted to get away immediately, she didn't feel safe," he said.