LONDON: Mesut Ozil was a subject of controversy before Arsenal’s 3-0 home Premier League defeat by champions Manchester City.
Ozil incurred the wrath of China whose state television CCTV refused to screen the game because of the midfielder’s critical comments about Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims in the north-west province of Xinjiang.
Rights groups say about a million people have been detained without trial in high-security prison camps. The China state has said they are being educated in “vocational training centres” to combat violent religious extremism.
The Chinese Football Association said Ozil’s comments were “unacceptable” and had “hurt the feelings” of Chinese fans.
Arsenal distanced themselves from Ozil’s views, saying that these had been personal opinions and the club was “always apolitical as an organisation.” Last October, a critical comment from the manager of the NBA franchise Houston Rockets led to Chinese companies suspending sponsorship and TV deals.
Ozil was included in the Arsenal line-up for the sixth successive match in all competitions. However, he had barely touched the ball before the Gunners found themselves one goal down in the second minute.
Gabriel Jesus, City’s hat-trick hero against Dinamo in Zagreb in the Champions League, escaped down the left wing and crossed for Kevin de Bruyne to rifle home. The goal, after 89 seconds, was the second-fastest Arsenal have conceded since moving to the Emirates Stadium in 2006. It was the Belgian midfielder’s fifth league goal of the season.
The weakness of Arsenal’s defence was exposed again 14 minutes later. Rodri and Phil Foden played swiftly out of defence for De Bruyne to find space down City’s left wing. This time Raheem Sterling was waiting at the far post to score his 20th goal of the season in all games for club and country.
Arsenal had created only chance in the first minute when Ederson saved well from Gabriel Martinelli. The failure to build on that was a major disappointment for Ljungberg who has won only one of his five games in charge in the Premier League and Europa League [ASSUMING ARSENAL DO NOT WIN].
Worse was to come. Arsenal were down to 10 men and waiting to replace injured Sead Kolasinac when De Bruyne struck City’s third goal in the 42nd minute. Moments later only a flying save from Bernd Leno denied De Bruyne a third goal. The goalkeeper tipped the Belgian’s drive against a post.
Only the reflexes of Leno saved Arsenal from a heavier defeat as City cruised through the rest of the game at half pace.
** Mason Greenwood, one of England’s most exciting young prospects, came off the substitutes’ bench to rescue a 1:1 home draw for Manchester United against managerless Everton. Greenwood, 18, made amends for an early own goal by Victor Lindelof. This was the 4,000th senior match in which at least one youth graduate was named in United’s team or squad.
** Tottenham moved within three points of the top four after Jan Vertonghen’s header earned a stoppage time 2:1 win at Wolves. Spurs have won four of their five league games since Jose Mourinho replaced sacked Maurico Pochettino. But Spurs have still not kept a clean sheet away from home since last New Year’s Day.
** Liverpool will miss central defender Dejan Lovren through a muscle strain for Wednesday’s FIFA Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey in Qatar. However Dutch midfielder Ginio Wijnaldum flew out with the squad despite a hamstring injury in the 2:0 win over Watford. Mohamed Salah scored both goals as the leaders made it 16 wins out of 17. Salah totals 84 goals in 126 Liverpool appearances.