‘Sad’ Arsene Wenger defends Mesut Ozil after Atletico Madrid defeat

Mesut Ozil was a peripheral figure against Atletico Madrid. (AFP)
Updated 04 May 2018
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‘Sad’ Arsene Wenger defends Mesut Ozil after Atletico Madrid defeat

  • Diego Costa sinks the Gunners in semfinal
  • Ozil accused of shedding crocodile tears after Europa League exit

MADRID: Arsene Wenger was left devastated by Arsenal’s Europa League defeat to Atletico Madrid on Thursday but made a staunch defense of midfielder Mesut Ozil.
Ozil’s performance was heavily criticized by former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, who said the German had cried “crocodile tears” after the game, and was “not fit to wear the shirt.”
Diego Costa’s strike proved decisive at the Wanda Metropolitano where a 1-0 victory secured Atletico a 2-1 win on aggregate and a place in the final against Marseille.
Defeat ends Wenger’s hopes of leaving Arsenal on a high as his team missed out on a shot at a major trophy and squandered their last chance to qualify for the Champions League.
“I’m very sad tonight,” Wenger said. “Unfortunately you have to go through that — the game can be very cruel, sometimes very nice, but the suffering is very strong tonight.
“Looking at the chances over the two games the least we could say is we are very frustrated. The tie should have been over in the first game.”
It remains to be seen how another season outside Europe’s premier tournament will affect Arsenal’s search both for a new coach, and new signings, this summer.
“The club now has to think about what to do for next season,” Wenger said. “I think there are some good ingredients in our team and they will bounce back. With the right additions in the summer I think they can compete next year.”
Keown, however, was less optimistic and reserved a particularly harsh assessment for Ozil.
“He wasn’t fit to wear the shirt tonight,” Keown told BT Sport. “I’ve seen this a lot this season and it needs to be said. He needs to be dug out. We expect better from him.
“These are crocodile tears I’m seeing from the player. He’s not conning me.”
Keown added: “I bet he doesn’t play again this season. He’ll have some emotional breakdown and won’t play this weekend.”
When Keown’s comments were put to Wenger, he said: “I don’t agree with that. You will see that he gave a lot. It was a difficult team, physically very intense.
“I’m convinced that Ozil should not be criticized by anyone just because he did not score. We had plenty of opportunities and we lose as a team.”
Wenger also delivered an update on the fitness of Laurent Koscielny, who had to be carried off on a stretcher in the 12th minute after the defender went down, with nobody near him, clutching his left Achilles.
Arsenal and France now face an anxious wait.
“It doesn’t look very good, it’s his Achilles,” Wenger said. “You can always hope for a miracle in the scan but if he has a ruptured Achilles, his chances for the World Cup are non-existent.”
Costa was the star of the show, providing the tenacity and killer instinct Arsenal so desperately lacked.
“Costa came back here for nights like this,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “To be important, to lead from the front. This side needs an aggressive striker and that’s exactly what he is.”


Pep Guardiola urges title calm after Manchester City edge closer after beating sorry United

Updated 25 April 2019
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Pep Guardiola urges title calm after Manchester City edge closer after beating sorry United

  • Guardiola’s City have 89 points after 35 games
  • Title rivals Liverpool are just one point behind

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola said both Manchester City and Liverpool deserve to win the Premier League title after his side brushed aside Manchester United 2-0 on Wednesday to top the table again.
Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane struck for the visitors in 12 second-half minutes at Old Trafford to inflict a seventh defeat in nine games on United, who remain three points adrift of the top four.
Guardiola’s City have 89 points after 35 games, with Liverpool a point behind. Both sides have just three games remaining.
“I understand the pressure we have and obviously here at Old Trafford with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard running behind,” the City boss told Sky Sports. “I told them we needed to play to win, it doesn’t matter if we concede.
“Now we go to Burnley and we know how tough it will be. It’s important to be calm. We are still not champions with three gaurgesmes left — it’s incredible with the points we have and Liverpool have.
“I told the players don’t read tomorrow, don’t watch the television, just rest and sleep a lot and go in there against Burnley.”
“Both teams deserve the title,” he added. “But it can be just one. The team that is going to lose can’t have regrets because they have given everything. Normally with this kind of victory you can it enjoy it the most but we have to be calm.”