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Pundit's stunned reaction to former Arsenal star Mesut Ozil's first Fenerbahce start

FOOTBALL By Mirror | February 17th 2021
Mesut Ozil's work rate at Arsenal was criticised by former manager Unai Emery. [Photo: Courtesy]

Former Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil looked as sharp as ever as he made his first start for Fenerbahce - and his performance drew lavish praise from a club legend.

Ozil joined the Turkish giants in the January transfer window after agreeing to terminate his contract with the Gunners.

The 32-year-old came off the bench in the Super Lig win at Hatayspor and defeat by Galatasaray and made his first start for the trip to Fatih Karagumruk on Saturday.

Though he spent eight months without playing a game for Arsenal, Ozil showed no signs of rustiness during Fenerbahce's 2-1 victory and was hailed after the match.

"I did not expect Mesut Ozil to do so much. It is not easy," said former Fenerbahce and Turkey striker Ridvan Dilmen.

"You play football for the first time after 10 months. A team was not built around Mesut, Mesut came to this team.

"I think the next season will be much better because his contract will be three-and-a-half years. Despite this, I respect his devotion."

Ozil made his first start as Fenerbahce kept pace at the top of the table with victory at Karagumruk. [Photo: Courtesy]

Mame Thiam and former West Ham striker Enner Valencia gave Fenerbahce, before ex-Liverpool forward Fabio Borini pulled one back for the hosts after the hour mark.

The match serves as a timely reminder of Ozil's quality and drive, despite many pundits, fans and managers criticising his work rate during his time with Arsenal.

After he was sacked in December 2019, former Gunners boss Unai Emery said: "There are games in which you see Mesut's brilliance, linking with the attack.

"But also I had to find players around him so he felt comfortable. Also the team needed to feel solid."And when you, little by little, have to build a team that is aggressive, intense, as well as structured for good pressure, we also had to find a space for Mesut.

"He has talent that allows other players to be better, but when you want a bit more aggressive pressure he does not have the best qualities for that."

Ozil appears to have a new lease of life with Fenerbahce and will hope to steer them to Super Lig glory this season, though they face bitter competition from Galatasaray and Besiktas in the title race.

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