Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised Arsenal attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil ahead of the match between the two sides at Anfield on Sunday.
Ozil came in for criticism from former Reds midfielder and club legend Steven Gerrard for his limp display at Stoke last week as the Gunners lost 1-0, but Klopp still believes the Germany international is a special player.
He said, as quoted by the Mirror: “I remember the 3-3 draw we played here [in January 2016].
“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.”
Gerrard was particularly critical of Ozil for his performance against the Potters as Jese Rodriguez's debut goal gave Mark Hughes' side a slender victory.
The former England international said: “I just worry about his reaction and body language – when the ball is turned over he offers his team-mates zero. Away from home he’s a liability – he just doesn’t do enough.
“World-class players do both – when they lose possession they put a shift in for their team-mates. It was clear that didn’t happen.”