Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, days after he was lambasted by the Reds Under-18 manager and legend Steven Gerrard for being a liability on the pitch following the Gunners' loss to Stoke City. Gerrard was not pleased that the playmaker offered so little off the ball, something which world class players are not meant to do.
The 28-year-old was once again criticised as Arsene Wenger's men suffered a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City on Saturday (19 August), with his work ethic heavily scrutinised by pundits and supporters alike. The former Real Madrid playmaker has just one year left on his contract at the Emirates Stadium and does not seem to be close to penning fresh terms.
However, he has found an unlikely supporter in the form of Klopp ahead of their much anticipated game against the north London club at Anfield. Klopp is well aware of Ozil's qualities before facing him in England, during his time at Borussia Dortmund when the midfielder was plying his trade at Schalke and Werder Bremen. Ozil is also the first choice for the Germany national team and Klopp insists that any criticism of him is unwarranted.
"I remember the 3-3 draw we played here [in January 2016]," Klopp recalled, as quoted by the Mirror. "If Arsenal played that day without Ozil and [Olivier] Giroud, we'd have won 3-0. It was one long ball – Giroud gave it to Mesut and there were five players on him, but we had no chance.
"He is an outstandingly skilled boy. If people are not happy with him, I don't know why. There is absolutely no doubt over in Germany about the quality of Mesut Ozil. In his position Germany is really blessed with a lot of world-class or close-to-world-class players but he is a first pick in the German national team, so that should be a sign.
"The manager, Joachim Low, sticks to the players he is successful with, but not when other players offer more. So Ozil's always a very important player for Germany – don't forget he won the World Cup with Germany three years ago, so I don't know why people criticise him."