Arsenal’s carjack duo not mentally fit to return
Mesut Ozil and sead Kolasinac were not mentally ready to play for Arsenal against lyon yesterday, three days after they were the victims of an attempted carjacking at knifepoint. the pair, who were unharmed after the terrifying attack, met up with their team-mates at the emirates, but manager unai emery decided they need more time to recover. the spaniard said: ‘they weren’t ready to play. it’s not a good moment because their focus is not 100 per cent. ‘the most important thing now is that they can feel good and safe and with their family being calm. We decided it’s best to continue resting. Hopefully in a couple of days they can start normally with the team.’
ARSENAL manager Unai Emery believes Lille winger Nicolas Pepe would ‘really, really improve’ his squad — but has immediate concerns over the fitness of Alexandre Lacazette after he limped away from the Emirates yesterday wearing a protective boot on his left foot.
Emery confirmed that the club are still working on a £72million move for the much- coveted Pepe following a breakthrough in negotiations last week.
They have already signed attacker Gabriel Martinelli, defender William Saliba and midfielder Dani Ceballos, who has joined on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid and made his debut yesterday.
But the Arsenal boss insisted he is still looking to add players — provided they are a significant upgrade on the current crop.
‘ We are working and also thinking how we can improve,’ Emery said yesterday. ‘There are different players on the table with a possibility we can sign them.
‘Pepe is a very good player and we are thinking only of players who would really, really improve this squad, who would give us different chances to improve.
‘We have been working for the last few weeks and before the season starts, the first match in Newcastle, to get the best players in our squad.’
Pepe scored 22 goals for Lille last season, second only to Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, while also registering 11 assists — the second-best tally in the French top flight. His sale would provide much-needed funds at cash-strapped Lille, who signed him from Angers two years ago for around £9m. Lacazette will be assessed over the coming days after suffering a suspected ankle sprain. The striker had to be taken off after 12 minutes of the 2-1 Emirates Cup defeat by Lyon but Emery said the substitution was precautionary.
He said: ‘ We think it’s not serious. He decided with a doctor and me that it was better to take no more risk. He tried to continue but it is better in pre-season not to take a risk. The doctor said they will check him tomorrow but it’s not serious.’
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring with a volley in a first half that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan also go close.
Moussa Dembele then scored two second-half goals to dampen Arsenal’s preparations for the new season.
Ceballos came on to a rousing reception but he was unable to prevent Arsenal from slipping to defeat as Martinelli had a late goal ruled out.
Emery admitted afterwards that the attempted carjacking involving Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac may have affected his squad.
‘They were out and not all the focus was 100 per cent to win the game,’ he said.