Souness slams sulky Oezil, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Souness slams sulky Oezil

But Arsenal boss Emery says he likes German's 'character', despite tantrum after substitution

Former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness took a dig at Arsenal playmaker Mesut Oezil after he cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted during the 2-2 English Premier League draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

The Gunners were leading 2-1 when he came off for Danny Welbeck in the 68th minute, after goals by Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had the away team in the driver's seat following Luka Milivojevic's spot-kick opener for Palace.

The substitution prompted a tantrum from Oezil, who threw his gloves on the ground in disgust and stomped past the Arsenal manager Unai Emery before taking a seat on the bench.

With Oezil off the pitch, Palace went on to snatch a late equaliser, again via Milivojevic from the penalty spot, to end Arsenal's 11-match winning run in all competitions.

Said Souness on Sky Sports: "To be fair, Oezil showed a great deal of passion when he was subbed today. That's the most I've ever seen him show.

"You're the captain, when you're on the pitch, show courage to get on the ball when you're not dominating.

"Show real passion, maybe you're not built for it, but certainly make an attempt to make a few challenges and win the ball back for your team.

"He doesn't do that. I'm sorry to harp on about him a bit, but a man with that much talent should influence games like that."

Oezil's outburst is the latest flare-up between him and Emery.

The Spaniard reportedly angered the 30-year-old earlier this season when he told him to work harder during matches.

Despite that alleged fall-out, Emery had made Oezil his captain in the absence of injured previous skipper Petr Cech.

Whether the German retains the armband now remains to be seen, but Emery opted for a restrained response when asked about the touchline incident.


"It is normal not to be happy. I like the players like him who show the character when we are not playing well, and when I substituted him at 2-1, usually every player wants to continue playing," AFP quoted Emery as saying.

The Gunners boss was more critical of striker Alexandre Lacazette, who carelessly lost possession in the build-up to Palace's 83rd-minute equaliser.

"For the second goal, Laca was maybe not thinking as much, and I was pushing him to think more," said Emery.

"The second goal was an action where we had the ball in the opposition box and we did one bad pass.

"With this pass, we lost the ball and then they scored from the transition."

Palace boss Roy Hodgson also had Lacazette on his mind during his post-match press conference, after he appeared to use his hand to divert the ball into Aubameyang's path for Arsenal's second goal.

Said the former England manager: "Most people would feel sympathy for us because it wasn't exactly a touch of the hand, but one which helped the ball to the player who scored."

Former English Premier League referees Mark Clattenburg and Dermot Gallagher agreed.

Clattenburg wrote in his Daily Mail column: "Arsenal's second goal should not have stood...

"Referee Martin Atkinson, standing on the edge of the penalty area, must have thought that Lacazette had got his hand out of the way, but replays show the ball moved slightly before the Palace defender headed on to Aubameyang to score."

Gallagher agreed, telling Sky Sports: "It was handball, but it is a difficult decision to spot as my first reaction is, 'Is the ball in the net?' And it was only when I watched the replay that I saw Lacazette handle the ball."