Mesut Ozil and the 10 Most Harshly Criticised Footballers in the Premier League
Mesut Ozil has come under fire this week as the man who once appeared to be the keystone to Arsenal's trophy hunt missed a penalty against Bayern Munich and was lambasted for poor defending by Mathieu Flamini. The German was even moved to apologise for his subpar effort.
Yet, despite criticism surrounding his laziness, Ozil actually ran the third-highest distance of anyone on the pitch at the Emirates (as per Rant Sports), suggesting his work rate was better than many are giving him credit for.
The Gunners midfielder leads our list of the 10 most harshly criticised Premier League players.
Roberto Soldado moved to Tottenham for a club-record £26 million last summer, but so far, the Spanish striker has failed to live up to his price tag.
The former Valencia man has found the net only five times in 21 Premiership games, of which three were penalties. The 28-year-old didn't help his case on Thursday evening when he pulled off a shocking miss against Dnipro, surmising what has admittedly been a difficult season for the Spaniard.
Yet the "flop" tag seems harsh, considering the fact that Tottenham as a whole were suffering from a severe goalscoring problem under Andre Villas-Boas. Also, much like Ozil, he needs time to adjust to a new league environment.
Darren Bent fell out of favour with Harry Redknapp at Tottenham (because 'Arry's wife Sandra was a better finisher) and was completely frozen out at Aston Villa, while his stats when he first joined Fulham suggested he didn't touch the ball enough.
Yet the 30-year-old striker showed his prolific nature at Sunderland and he showed a glimpse of his value with his 95th-minute equaliser at Manchester United a fortnight ago. In fact, The Guardian's Knowledge column recently proved that he is the most prolific visiting striker at Old Trafford!
Nani is no longer deemed good enough for a regular spot in Manchester United's first team, but his ego will not let him go to a smaller club.
The Portuguese midfielder is proven player with a strong international track record. If he lowered his sights and reassessed his own "level," he could be a standout star at a mid-table team (cue jokes about United being a mid-table team).
Luis Suarez is an unquestionably brilliant striker, but he comes under harsh criticism for his tendency to cheat and dive.
His feigned agony is inexcusable, but he has now become a victim of his own simulation, with defenders targeting him by clipping his heels, stamping on him and generally roughing him up.
Brendan Rodgers recently told reporters that Liverpool attack aggressively, which provokes a lot of challenges. He added that Suarez often "doesn't get what he deserves." This is a fair point.
When Sir Alex Ferguson splashed £17 million on Ashley Young in 2011, many Red Devils fans were puzzled by how little he offered for such a weighty price tag, while his diving antics have proved to be a source of embarrassment.
Admittedly, Young has not lived up to expectation, but he remains a tricky winger with the ability to whip in those crosses that David Moyes likes so much.
Since arriving at Anfield in 2007, Lucas has received plenty of flak from Liverpool fans, who begrudged his mistakes and found him to be an overhyped wunderkind.
However, the Brazilian has come on a very long way in the past few years, with many fans now appreciating his understated contribution and respecting the professionalism with which he approaches the game.
Michu took the Premier League by storm when he arrived at Swansea in 2012/13, bagging 18 goals for a transfer fee of just £2 million.
This season, however, the general consensus is that he has fallen off the map, managing only two league goals in 18 starts.
The Spaniard may be shaping up to be a one-season wonder, but this campaign has been blighted by injury and it must be reiterated that he only cost £2 million! Twenty goals across two seasons is fantastic value in that respect.
Jordan Henderson arrived at Liverpool with a price tag in the region of £16-20 million around his neck, which did not seem compatible with the thoroughly mediocre performances he gave.
However, Henderson might be one of the Reds' most improved players this season, with the midfielder becoming an integral part of Brendan Rodgers' frenetic attacking high-pressing style.
It's also important to remember that he's still only 23 years old.
Brendan Rodgers provoked the ire of Swansea by bringing Joe Allen to Anfield in 2012, yet the Welshman has failed to impress many Liverpool fans. Allen even admitted to the Daily Star that he wasn't surprised that he had been dropped recently.
He is yet another player who is given the "overrated" label because of his hefty transfer fee, but he is only 23 years old, was highly praised by Swans fans, the engine room of the Welsh national team and has suffered through injury and being played out of position.
Let's give him a chance, shall we?
I was at the Emirates in 2010 when Marouane Chamakh made his Arsenal home debut against AC Milan in the Emirates Cup. The Moroccan international scored that day and there was a great deal of excitement surrounding Arsene Wenger's newly unearthed talent.
In the Premier League, he has failed to replicate the form he showed in Bordeaux, but he has scored five times for struggling Crystal Palace since moving to Croydon this season, helping the Eagles gently lift away from the drop zone.
To put his contribution in perspective, he has scored 27 per cent of Palace's league goals in this campaign—not bad for someone completely written off by many fans.