Mikel Arteta Claims He ‘Failed’ Mesut Özil But Has No Regrets Over Squad Omission

Mikel Arteta, Mesut Ozil
Mikel Arteta believes he failed Mesut Ozil for not finding a way to inspire him | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he gave midfielder Mesut Özil every chance to earn a spot in the Gunners’ 25-man Premier League squad, but feels as though he failed for not bringing the best out of the German.

Özil blasted Arsenal for showing him a lack of loyalty after he was left out of the squad, but even though he is out of the Europa League squad as well, he remains determined to prove the boss wrong and return to the first-team fold.

Arteta confessed (via the club’s official website) that Özil has every right to voice his frustrations, although he does not feel guilty about how things have played out.

“What can I say from my side? It’s just a football decision that my conscience is very calm about because I was very fair with him,” he said. “My level of communication with him has been really high, we know what to expect from each other.

“When I believe that he could contribute to the team to be better, which is why I was hired to this football club – to become the manager, to win football matches, competitions and create and build a project for the short, medium and long-term. He has had the opportunity like everybody else.

“I’m sad that I had to leave three players off this list, which is never pleasant, but I just have to say that I tried to look everybody in the eye and be comfortable with it. With Mesut, I had this feeling because I have been very straightforward since I arrived at this club.”

Arteta went on to reject the idea that Özil could leave the club before his contract expires next summer. before admitting he was frustrated with himself for having failed to inspire the midfielder.

“My job is to get the best out of every player, to contribute to the team and the performance,” he added. “Here, I feel that at the moment, today, that I’ve failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team.

Mikel ArtetaMikel Arteta
Arteta believes he should have been able to work with Ozil | Pool/Getty Images

“In some moments I was able to get close to that but in other moments I haven’t been able to because I had to make the decision to leave him out of the squad. This is the reality in football, that anything can happen and I’ve learnt that over the years. This is the reality and we have to face it.

“The best way to face it is to talk things through face to face and do it in the right way. This is the way I am and this is the way I’ll continue to do it.”

For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!


Antoine Griezmann Backs ‘Exceptional’ Ansu Fati as Barcelona Plan Legal Action Over Racist Article

Ansu Fati was the subject of a racist analogy in a match report following Barcelona's Champions League win
Ansu Fati was the subject of a racist analogy in a match report following Barcelona’s Champions League win | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has offered his support to teammate Ansu Fati after the 17-year-old was the subject of a racist description in a match report of the team’s 5-1 win over Ferencváros.

Fati scored one goal and assisted another in Wednesday’s victory, after which a report in Spanish newspaper ABC praised the teenager’s performance with highly inappropriate and troubling language.

In the article, Fati’s speed was compared to that of a ‘black street seller’, running away from the police with a ‘jungle-like stampede’.

Unsurprisingly, the article has been widely condemned online, with Griezmann taking to Twitter to plead for respect for Fati.

“Ansu is an exceptional guy who deserves respect like any human being,” the Frenchman wrote. “No to racism and no to bad education.”

The writer of the initial article, ABC’s Salvador Sostres, posted an apology on Thursday morning, insisting it was a misunderstanding and simply a poor attempt at a compliment.

“In Barça’s report about the match against Ferencváros, in my desire to praise the beauty of Ansu’s movements, and his class as a very young player, some expressions were taken as racist contempt,” Sostres said.

“Nothing is further from my intention, nor from my opinion, which is very favourable to the player as I have expressed in all my reports since he debuted.

“I am deeply sorry for the misunderstanding and I apologise to anyone who may have been offended.”

As noted by Cadena SER’s Sique Rodríguez, Barcelona are planning to take legal action against Sostres for his comments on Fati, with lawyers prepared to start proceedings on Thursday.

The comments brought what was otherwise an impressive evening for Barcelona to a disappointing end. The 5-1 win ensured Barcelona ended a run of two games without a victory and raised morale ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Real Madrid.

Ronald Koeman’s side have played one game fewer than their rivals and can move level with Real on ten points if they emerge victorious on Saturday.

For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!


Man Utd, Chelsea & Bayern Munich All Tracking Gladbach’s Denis Zakaria

Denis Zakaria
Denis Zakaria is a wanted man | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria is a wanted man, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich all keeping a close eye on the 23-year-old.

The Swiss international was outstanding for Gladbach last season, starring in midfield but also filling in at the back as Marco Rose’s side threatened to win the Bundesliga title.

Alfredo Morales, Denis ZakariaAlfredo Morales, Denis Zakaria
Zakaria was one of Gladbach’s top performers last season | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

He hasn’t played this season as a result of a knee injury, but as noted by Christian Falk, that hasn’t stopped the three European giants from considering bids.

Zakaria has just two years remaining on his contract and was heavily linked with a move away during the summer, with United and Liverpool often tipped to launch £45m bids to land the midfielder – but nothing ever materialised.

Liverpool’s interest has subsided since the arrival of Thiago Alcántara, but it appears as though Chelsea and Bayern have joined United in the race for his signature.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Frank LampardOle Gunnar Solskjaer, Frank Lampard
Chelsea & United are both keen | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Chelsea don’t actually get a mention in Falk’s story for Bild, which focuses largely on Bayern and their frustrations towards the perceived lack of transfer business during the summer.

Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich all spoke with club officials shortly before the transfer window closed to voice their concerns over the lack of high-profile additions to the squad – particularly as Thiago, Ivan Periši?, Philippe Coutinho and Álvaro Odriozola had all left without being replaced.

It was that meeting that prompted the arrivals of Bouna Sarr, Marc Roca, Douglas Costa and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, but it’s noted that Zakaria was also on their wish list during the summer.

Marc RocaMarc Roca
Bayern chose to sign Roca instead | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Bayern snubbed the chance to sign Zakaria, instead pursuing a cut-price deal for Roca, so just how interested in him they would be next summer remains to be seen.

It may be that Chelsea and United are left to battle it out for the defensive midfielder’s signature, with both sides keen to strengthen in that position.

For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!


Inter 2-2 Borussia Monchengladbach: Nerazzurri Player Ratings From Entertaining Draw

Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku scored twice on Wednesday night | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Inter opened their Champions League campaign on Wednesday night by salvaging a draw against an impressive Borussia Monchengladbach at San Siro.

Antonio Conte’s side dominated possession for much of the game but had to wait until the 49th minute for the opener, with Romelu Lukaku scrambling in from close range.

Arturo Vidal offered the visitors a route back into the game by clipping Marcus Thuram in the box, allowing Bensebaini Ramy to fire home the equaliser from the penalty spot.

Monchengladbach took the lead late in the second half when Alassane Plea picked out Jonas Hoffman, who tucked his shot through Samir Handanovic’s legs. A lengthy VAR check ensued, but the goal was eventually given.

Lukaku bagged his second in the 90th minute to salvage a draw for the Nerazzurri, bumping the ball in off his knee on the line.

Ramy Bensebaini, Samir HandanovicRamy Bensebaini, Samir Handanovic
Samir Handanovic coudn’t stop Ramy Bensebaini’s penalty | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Samir Handanovic (GK) – 5/10 – Couldn’t stop the penalty and got nutmegged for Hoffman’s strike in the second half.

Danilo D’Ambrosio (CB) – 5/10 – Booked and never looked entirely convincing as part of the three man defence.

Stefan de Vrij (CB) – 6/10 – The more natural centre back among the starters in defence, De Vrij was relatively solid but little more than that.

Aleksandar Kolarov (CB) – 6/10 – Started in defence but moved into a more advanced role towards the end of the game.

Arturo VidalArturo Vidal
It was a mixed bag for Arturo Vidal on Wednesday night | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Matteo Darmian (RWB) – 6/10 – Replaced Achraf Hakimi, who tested positive for coronavirus before the game. Provided width on the right without looking overly threatening.

Nicolo Barella (CM) – 6/10 – Lots of lovely twists and turns from the young Italian. Just needs to be a little more efficient going forward.

Arturo Vidal (CM) – 6/10 – Played his role in Lukaku’s strike with a lovely ping into the box, but also gave away the penalty which led to Monchengladbach’s equaliser with a lazy outstretched leg. Also caught out for the visitors’ second.

Ivan Perisic (LWB) – 6/10 – Sometimes he’s brilliant, sometimes not so much. A rather middling performance from the Croatian.

Christian Eriksen (AM) – 7/10 – A few early shots that were either blocked or easily gathered by Yann Sommer. Probably one of his better games for Inter since his move in January.

Alexis Sanchez (ST) – 6/10 – A few nice bits of interplay from the former Arsenal forward, but didn’t really impress before being hooked for Lautaro Martinez.

Romelu Lukaku (ST) – 8/10 – Came close to opening the scoring after some nice link-up play with D’Ambrosio and Sanchez. Wasn’t to be denied early in the second half, firing in from close range. Earned Inter a point with his late tap-in.

Lautaro Martinez – 6/10

Alessandro Bastoni – 6/10

Marcelo Brozovic – 5/10

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!


Bayern Munich 4-0 Atletico Madrid: Player Ratings as Kingsley Coman Inspires Champions to Win

Kingsley Coman scored and assisted in Bayern’s win against Atletico | ANDREAS GEBERT/Getty Images

Defending champions Bayern Munich got their Champions League campaign off to the perfect start with an impressive victory over a lacklustre Atletico Madrid.

A nicely worked opener saw Joshua Kimmich pick out Kingsley Coman, who snuck behind Kieran Trippier to finish past Jan Oblak into the far corner.

Goretzka doubled the hosts’ lead late in the first half, firing in on the half volley from Coman’s tidy ball across the box. Corentin Tolisso smacked in an incredibly well hit effort from range for the third before Coman wrapped the result up, the former Juventus winger running from his own half and twisting Felipe inside and out before finishing with ease

Atleti struggled for fluency in the final third and were sloppy defending their own goal, giving the ball away cheaply for both goals in the first half, with Luis Suarez disappointingly ineffectual.

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An easy night’s work for Manuel Neuer | Pool/Getty Images

Manuel Neuer (GK) – 6/10 – Quiet night for the Germany international. A relatively low rating, but only because he barely had anything to do.

Benjamin Pavard (RB) – 6/10 – Didn’t let much past him before being substituted in the second half, which is pretty much what you want from a defender.

Niklas Sule (CB) – 7/10 – Struck the post inside the opening 15 minutes when well placed to score. Otherwise it was a composed performance from the German Virgil van Dijk.

David Alaba (CB) – 6/10 – Booked but always had the pace to snuff out any kind of possible Atleti counter attack.

Lucas Hernandez (LB) – 7/10 – Surprisingly preferred to Alphonso Davies again, but wasn’t given too many issues by either Marcos Llorente or Kieran Trippier.

Leon Goretzka (CM) – 8/10 – Lashed in the second in clinical fashion to give Bayern some breathing space. His excellent partnership with Kimmich is the ideal caveat to Thiago’s departure.

Corentin Tolisso (CM) 8/10 – The more advanced of the three central midfielders, Tolisso was generally efficient without being particularly eye-catching before his extremely eye-catching effort from range. Postage stamp, stanchion, whatever, it was an incredible strike.

Joshua Kimmich (CM – 8/10 – Made the tackle and created the assist for Coman’s strike. Just oozes class whenever he plays.

Thomas Muller (RW) – 7/10 – Somehow booked for a successful tackle on Trippier. Technically got the assist for Tolisso’s goal, but how much credit he can take for it is up for debate.

Robert Lewandowski (ST) – 6/10 – Played his part in keeping Bayern’s attack nice and smooth. Didn’t get too many chances, but hey – he’s scored seven Bundesliga goals in four games already this season, so let’s cut him some slack.

Kingsley Coman (LW) – 9/10 – Lovely touch and finish for Bayern’s first goal and accurately picked out Goretzka for the second. His glorious solo strike was just reward for a brilliant performance.

Douglas Costa – 5/10

Bouna Sarr – 5/10

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – 5/10

Alphonso Davies – 5/10

Jan OblakJan Oblak
Jan Oblak could do little to stop Bayern’s rampant attack | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Jan Oblak (GK) – 5/10 – Could do little about any of the goals and didn’t have many other saves to make.

Kieran Trippier (RB) – 4/10 – Lost Coman for the Frenchman’s goal and couldn’t stop his opponent from enjoying a game winning performance.

Stefan Savic (CB) – 4/10 – Been at Atleti for a while but doesn’t look like becoming the Diego Godin figure they need him to be. A bit sluggish, but in fairness didn’t get much protection from those in front of him

Felipe (CB) – 3/10 – Gave the ball away in the build-up to Bayern’s opener and was majorly mugged off by Coman for Bayern’s fourth. A night to forget.

Renan Lodi (LB) – 5/10 – Offered little in attack but did make plenty of tackles. Also booked.

Marcos Llorente (RM) – 4/10 – There was to be no Anfield-esque performance from Llorente on Wednesday night. Made a few tackles and his contributions were pretty much all defensive.

Hector Herrera (CM) – 4/10 – He and central midfield partner Koke were frequently overrun whenever Bayern turned the ball over quickly. Booked.

Koke (CM) – 4/10 – Pretty much identical to Herrera. Also cautioned.

Yannick Carrasco (LM) – 5/10 – Wandered into some decent positions throughout but couldn’t make the most of them. Fired wide from a promising area moments before Tolisso’s stunner.

Luis SuarezLuis Suarez
Luis Suarez couldn’t effect proceedings | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Joao Felix (ST) – 4/10 – Struck straight at Neuer from a tight angle midway through the first half. Also ducked out of a 50/50 before Kimmich’s goal. Found the back of the net early in the second period but had it chalked off due to offside.

Luis Suarez (ST) – 5/10 – Looked frustrated for much of the game and looked to be struggling with a niggle at one point.

Angel Correa – 5/10

Vitolo – 5/10

Lucas Torreira- 5/10

Thomas Lemar – 5/10

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!