Former Arsenal defender Mathew Upson has said that Gunners boss Unai Emery took a bold step to bench Mesut Ozil for the weekend Premier League triumph at Bournemouth. The north London side were expecting a tough trip to the South Coast on Sunday and in order to curb the attacking threat, Emery went with a 3-4-3 formation which worked with good effect.

However, with that setup, it meant that one of the attackers had to be dropped and the Spaniard revealed after the game that Ozil was excluded from the starting XI as he would not have been able to match to the physical demands on the day. In a report by The Star, Upson happened to praise Emery for the decision but also suggested that the manager has provided a big statement by doing so.
Continue reading

Germany international Manuel Neuer has admitted that Bayern Munich were not switched off during the first half of the league clash against Hertha Berlin which cost them dearly in the form of a 2-0 defeat. The German champions were pegged back in midweek where they played out a surprise 1-1 draw against Augsburg at home and another winless game has meant that they have relinquished their advantage at the top.

Speaking after the game, Neuer said: “We were not 100 per cent present in the first half. The issue of missing opportunities remains a big one – this was the case again [against Hertha]. We were optimistic at half-time that we could still turn it around. In the Champions League everything is possible because we won the first game [against Benfica]. We are all professional enough and know what football is like.”
Continue reading

Germany international Thomas Muller has stressed that racism has never been an issue with the national side and Mesut Ozil’s retirement has been influenced by the coverage from the media. Ozil received plenty of criticism before the World Cup after he took a picture with Turkish president Recep Erdogan and he was thereafter made the scapegoat for the country’s poor showing in Russia.

Speaking to reporters, Muller said: “The whole discussion was fired up by outsiders. Of course, the protagonists of that matter acted a little bit unfortunately, both the executives of the DFB and the players. But, actually, this debate is hypocritical from the media’s side. Because of the debate, the media gets circulation. The DFB wanted to have peace with it, calm it, but the media always asked, again and again. The discussion was made bigger than it was and now you see what you get from that.So now we finally should end that debate and concentrate on football, because racism inside the national team never was an issue.”
Continue reading

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has stressed that he had never thought about the possibility of become the Germany head coach. The 51-year-old had been recently linked with the national team role after their poor showing at the 2018 World Cup but the German Football Federation have since kept their faith on long-standing manager Joachim Loew.

Speaking to German outlet Bild, Klopp indicated that the Germany role was never on his mind and he is content with his position with Liverpool. He added that keeping Loew at the helm of Germany was the right decision made despite the poor performance at the recent World Cup, he said: “Honestly, I have never thought about it. I am happy at Liverpool — everything else we shall see.I was relaxed as I expected it. I think it is absolutely the right decision.”
Continue reading

Huddersfield Town have confirmed the signing of Erik Durm from Borussia Dortmund for an undisclosed fee. The 26-year-old failed to make a single competitive appearance for the Bundesliga outfit last term due to injuries but he has nevertheless got the opportunity to head to the Premier League under former Dortmund reserves coach David Wagner.

“It is not every day that you can bring a player of the quality of Erik to your club. He is a World Cup winner and has played at the very highest level, so this is a fantastic day for Huddersfield Town. Obviously I know Erik well from our time together at Dortmund and he has all the qualities to be a great success in our ‘Terriers Identity.’ He is a smart, determined character too. He’s desperate to play and that is always a good thing for any head coach,” Wagner told the club’s official website.
Continue reading

Germany head coach Joachim Loew has stressed the team is not going to ‘break apart’ following the shock 1-0 defeat to Mexico on Sunday. The defeat was Germany’s first in their opening World Cup since 1982 but Loew insists there is ‘ample opportunity’ for the reigning champions to get back on track.

Speaking after the game, he said: “We didn’t play well today… It can happen, you have to accept it. And we will not just break apart now and become completely headless and do something completely different… we have a clear structure and we will continue to look forward, there is no need to break up and panic simply because we lost a match. We will not change our gameplan. If we play out our ideas then we have players who are able to deliver.”
Continue reading

German head coach Joachim Loew admitted that it was a difficult decision to exclude Sandro Wagner from his provisional squad for the summer World Cup. The Bayern Munich striker has been one of the top performing German strikers in recent years but Loew decided to omit in place of uncapped Nils Petersen from Freiburg.

Speaking to reporters, Loew stressed that he had to look upon the welfare of the team and he took the responsibility of informing the key players who were excluded from the World Cup squad. He said:“My job as national manager is unfortunately also to shatter dreams and make hard decisions. It is never against a player, but always in the interests of the team. Sandro showed his class when he was with us. He played for us with full commitment and he has a very, very good character. In the end, minor factors were decisive.”
Continue reading

Arsenal legend Lee Dixon insists that the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil would have been shown the exit door if they had played in the Premier League in his era. The pair have just eight months of their contracts, and they are expected to leave the club in January or at the end of the season.

In a report covered by Sky Sports, Dixon feels there was no room for such kind of players during his time at the club, he said, “We’d have just shown them the door. If you don’t want to play, then go. That’s not changed. If a player doesn’t want to play for you: it happened with Michael Thomas 18 months after he scored [the title-winning goal against Liverpool] in ’89, he was in dispute with the club or George about money. He ended up going in similar circumstances and signing with Liverpool.”
Continue reading

The signing of Mesut Ozil was supposed to take Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League along with making the club a force in Europe once again. Arsene Wenger’s men paid £42m for the German international to acquire his services from Real Madrid in 2013, but his time at the Emirates Stadium has been underwhelming to say the least.

Ozil struggled for consistency early in his Gunners career and was maligned for his inability to impact games. He started to get to grips with life in the Premier League in the 2014-15 campaign before displaying his best football late in 2015, leading the top flight in assists. Continue reading

Manchester City made their first serious stride forward in the Champions League last season, reaching the semi-finals of the competition. Manuel Pellegrini guided them through a group containing Juventus and Sevilla, finishing top of the table ahead of the Italian giants, despite losing both matches to Massimiliano Allegri’s men.

The Citizens eased past Dynamo Kiev before edging past Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals, securing a last-four berth where Real Madrid awaited them. There was little between the two sides over the course of the two legs, with Fernando’s own goal being the deciding factor in sending Real to the final in Milan.

City scraped into fourth place in the Premier League last season, securing their place in this year’s tournament, although they were forced to see off Steaua Bucharest in their play-off fixture. The draw for the group stage set up a mouth-watering clash between Pep Guardiola and his former team Barcelona in a fierce battle for top spot in Group C, while Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic will attempt to provide resistance.

With Guardiola at the helm, City will be eyeing a breakthrough on the continent with their first European success, and given the investment poured into the team over the past eight years it is time for the club to become a force alongside Barca, Real and Bayern Munich. The Citizens are backed at 12/1 in the latest Champions League odds to win the crown for the first time, although they will have a major challenge ahead of them to end Spain’s recent dominance.

As expected, City have started strongly under Guardiola’s tenure, winning all three of their Premier League matches thus far this season. However, their victories over Sunderland and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium were far from convincing. Despite failing to put together a complete performance in the early stages of the campaign, City are top of the table, with Chelsea and bitter rivals Manchester United for company.

Their display in their 5-0 hammering of Steaua was far more straightforward, although the standard of opposition was far below what they can expect for the remainder of the term across all four competitions. Sergio Aguero has hit the ground running in the new season, notching six goals in his opening five matches, including a hat-trick in the away leg in Bucharest. The Argentine holds the key to how far his side will progress in the Champions League this time around.

Should he produce his best form on the continent then City will have a chance to match the firepower of the dominant teams in the competition. The 28-year-old was put under too much pressure last season as Wilfried Bony failed to fire, while Kelechi Iheanacho did not score in his four European matches.New signings Nolito and Leroy Sane will ease the strain on Aguero, while Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne will have benefited from a year to acclimatise to their new club, building a rapport with the Argentine spearheading the attack.

Guardiola has proven that he is not afraid to make big changes at the club, having removed Joe Hart from between the sticks and sent the England international out on loan to Torino. He has now followed that decision by leaving Yaya Toure out of his squad for the group stage. Toure has been a polarising figure at the Etihad Stadium over recent seasons. The Ivorian has displayed brilliance at times on the pitch, but has also had the propensity to put in a number of sub-standard performances. His attitude has also come into question, and the latest development could see his time at the club come to an end.

The 33-year-old’s absence will make Vincent Kompany’s return to action even more pressing for the Citizens given his leadership qualities. His injury problems have played a huge role in City’s struggles to add further trophies to their collection over the past two years. An extended absence this term could be mitigated by the signing of Jon Stones, while Nicolas Otamendi has appeared more comfortable in his second season. However, City’s success could well hinge on how much playing time their skipper can handle on the continent this term.