By Matt Farr
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has slammed criticism of Mesut Ozil as wrong and unjust.
The 28-year-old has contributed nine goals and eight assists so far this season, but has failed to find the back of the net in his last eight Premier League games – dating back to the victory over Stoke on December 10.
There have even been calls for Ozil to be dropped from the starting XI when Arsenal take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday night, a decision which Arsene Wenger has admitted he is considering.
In his column in the Evening Standard, Ferdinand insists that Ozil does not deserve to be made a scapegoat for Arsenal’s poor recent displays, but did admit that he had ‘gone off the boil’.
He also argued that Arsenal should be doing everything in their power in order to meet his demands for a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season.
Rio Ferdinand wrote: “Mesut Ozil has become an easy scapegoat when things are going wrong at Arsenal. It’s not fair and it’s not right.
“It’s easy to blame Ozil because he has a languid style. For his game to prosper, he needs other people to be constantly running and moving for him, to provide a target.
“People always question the German international’s record in the big games, but what is Arsenal’s record like in the big games?
“If they were sitting high in that mini league of matches between the top-six Premier League clubs and he hadn’t scored or made assists, then that would back up the argument.
“Arsenal should give him a new contract. They need top-class players and he is one of them.”
Despite the critics, Ozil has had moments of brilliance this season, particularly in the first-half of the campaign.
In a 6-0 thrashing of Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets in the Champions League group-stage on October 19, Ozil bagged a superb hat-trick as well as an assist.
He followed that up with another goal and an assist when they took on the same opponent several weeks later.
However, with him far from his fluent best, his current form is cause for great concern for Arsenal and their fans.
They would love him to regain the form his showcased last season, where he landed an incredible 20 assists and eight goals from his 45 appearances in all competitions – despite a barren run during the final three months of the campaign.
In other Arsenal news, the Gunners must axe these three players when they take on Bayern Munich.