Mesut Ozil must not be used as a ''scapegoat'' for Arsenal's shortcomings, manager Arsene Wenger has insisted.
he German World Cup winner, who is Arsenal's record £42million signing, has come under fire following a couple of uninspiring displays, culminating in the 2-0 Champions League defeat away to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.
Wenger, though, rejected constant criticism of the 25-year-old, who remains an integral part of his plans.
''Why should he be a scapegoat? For what? We've lost one game since April 1. Let's be realistic,'' said Wenger, whose side travel to Aston Villa on Saturday.
''We have come out of a very difficult preparation period with decisive games. We had very difficult games against Besiktas. I don't know - a scapegoat for what?''
Wenger continued: ''What is difficult to manage today is that everybody knows absolutely everything and everybody judges people definitely on one game. You have to accept that football is played by human beings who have ups and downs like you have in your life.
''You have plenty of tacticians in the world who have managed zero games. You have to accept their opinion - they might be right, they might be wrong as well. They have to accept that.
''We live in a world where everybody has an opinion and we have to live with that. At the end of the day, somebody always has to make a decision and that's the guy who is responsible.''
Wenger says supporters should not worry about how to get the best out of club-record signing Ozil, who will continue to have a free role within his side.
"(Ozil's best position) is a secondary debate in my opinion because he has freedom to play when we have the ball and go where he wants," said Wenger.
"If you look at the heat map where he plays, you will be amazed where he is all over the pitch.
"I signed a striker, with (Alexis) Sanchez (joining in the summer). We have another striker, (Danny) Welbeck. We have a lot of offensive players, with Ozil, (Jack) Wilshere and (Aaron) Ramsey - and even (Mikel) Arteta when he plays is initially an offensive player.
"We have to find a balance between attacking and defending, that is why it is not an easy subject."
Wenger continued: "(The fans) should not be concerned and just support him. I understand that you want your best players always to make the difference in every single game and we all go through period where we are a bit less good.
"You help. A club is a union between players, supporters and directors. You have to be united and sometimes go through periods together where it goes a bit less well."
Arsenal expect to have defender Calum Chambers and midfielder Mathieu Flamini available after missing the Dortmund game.
Jack Wilshere's ankle knock is not serious, but the club are still waiting on news of the full extent of the ankle ligament damage suffered by full-back Mathieu Debuchy against Manchester City on a stretcher.
Arsenal are unbeaten in the Premier League, but have now drawn three matches.
Wenger said: "We want to respond (at Villa). We had a disappointing performance more than a defeat.
"I think what was important is that we came out of Saturday's game feeling that we had a very good performance and on Tuesday night we didn't, so it's important we come back.
"We have confidence in our strengths and we want to show that we can perform in the game that is important on Saturday."