Uncut: What Owen REALLY said about Arsenal

The former Liverpool, Newcastle United and Manchester United striker said he was misquoted in today's edition of Metro.

On page 72 of the Metro, Michael Owen's half-term report on a website he has an investment in, SportLobster, was referenced, with the following headline: 'Ozil not the man to lead title charge, says Owen', while the body copy of the article was alluded to text from Owen that criticised one player in particular - Mesut Ozil; Arsene Wenger's marquee signing of the summer.

While Owen did indeed comment negatively on Ozil, he did offer a balanced view of the club. He lauded the individual improvements made by towering defender Per Mertesacker, box-to-box sensation Aaron Ramsey and number nine/number ten blend Olivier Giroud. He also dubbed the Gunners a 'well-oiled machine' and said the club are deservedly at the top of the Premier League, but are flawed.

And that's where the criticism of Ozil entered his Arsenal assessment.

'Despite their recent pummeling, Arsenal currently lead the way and deservedly so,' wrote Owen in SportLobster. 'Ironically, after losing their first game of the season the knives were out for Arsene Wenger. He wasn't the only one under fire. Mertesacker, Ramsey and Giroud were considered by many to simply not be good enough for a team whose eyes are always fixed on the title.

'Fast forward four months and who would believe that these three men in particular would be so instrumental in their team's terrific start? Throw in qualification to the second phase of The Champions League and you would have to assume that the Gunners fans are dreaming of a return to the trophy winning years of a decade ago.

'There is little doubting that Wenger's men are now a well-oiled machine. The players all know their jobs inside out with Wenger rarely changing his system and against the lesser lights in the league I always fancy them to out-score their opponents.'

Thus far, this is, in journalistic parlance - 'fair comment'. His published opinion is not defamatory, not stated with malice and is based on the following facts: Arsenal have registered some big wins, including a 4-1 rout over Norwich City as well as a 1-0 edging of Tottenham Hotspur, a 2-0 trumping of Liverpool and a 2-0 victory over Southampton.

However, against pre-season notions over which clubs would be favourites for silverware they have come unstuck: Arsenal lost 1-0 to Manchester United, 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund at home (although they beat BVB 1-0 away) and were thrashed 6-3 recently by Manchester City.

Owen continued: 'It is against the big boys where I think they could struggle as, in my opinion, they don't have the class of player to go toe to toe with the main title contenders. Despite people constantly telling me that Mesut Ozil is world class, his inconsistency means that we only see occasional glimpses of real quality.

'His odd good performance is usually followed by half a dozen poor ones and despite Giroud performing admirably, unless Wenger acquires a new striker to help share the load, they could just tail off the longer the season goes on. Despite my slight reservations, Arsenal are a great club and if you were to pick any manager to steer their team home, Arsene Wenger would be top of that list.'

For more of Owen's half-time report, click here.

image: © Ronnie Macdonal

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