Arsene Wenger hailed Mesut Özil for finally overcoming the disappointment of Champions League elimination and inspiring Arsenal to victory over West Ham United on Wednesday.
Özil opened the scoring in his side’s 3-0 win, but only after the Gunners had been frustrated by 58 minutes of resolute defending from Slaven Bilic’s side.
The 28-year-old playmaker put in his best display for some time and, speaking in his post-match press conference, Wenger suggested Özil had particularly struggled since last month’s humiliating 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich.
“I feel that he's back physically, he was focused,” the Arsenal manager said. “I know him well, I felt he had been hit hard by us going out of the Champions League.
“It took some time to recover from that mentally, and I feel for a few weeks now in training he's really focused again, and that came out in the game.”
In comments made last month to Bild, the German newspaper, Özil suggested that he is unfairly criticised following Arsenal defeats, claiming: “When the team's on a bad run, somebody needs to be singled out, sadly most of the time it's me.”
When asked whether it was important to praise Özil for good performances, given the criticism of him, Wenger replied: “Of course,” before adding, “We live in a world of extremes.
“We are always praised more than we deserve it when it goes well and punished more than we deserve it when it hasn't gone well but that's our world.”