SINGAPORE, July 28, (AFP): Mesut Ozil looked set to be handed a captain’s role this season after he shrugged off his tempestuous row with German authorities to fire Arsenal to a 5-1 friendly win over Paris Saint-Germain.
Ozil, playing for the first time since he controversially quit the German national team claiming racism, took the captain’s armband and duly netted the opener as the Premier League club ran riot.
Alexandre Lacazette’s quickfire double and late strikes from Rob Holding and Eddie Nketiah then turned it into a rout against a youthful PSG — the former club of new Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
“We’re looking to Mesut and giving him responsibility, and I think he can take responsibility like a captain,” said Emery, adding that he would name Ozil as one of five or even six club skippers for the coming season.
“He and the other players had quality, good positioning I’m very happy with how the players played … Tomorrow we’re going to travel to London but this week was very good for our preparation,” said the Spaniard.
Ozil, in front of 50,000 fans at the International Champions Cup game in Singapore, was quickly into his stride with midfield partner Henrikh Mkhitaryan against a PSG line-up shorn of its World Cup stars.
He opened the scoring with a tap-in at the far post after Mkhitaryan released Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in space and the Gabonese forward passed back across the face.
Ozil’s exquisite flick during a length-of-the pitch move nearly produced Arsenal’s second but Gianluigi Buffon saved well from Nigerian forward Alex Iwobi.
The Italian great also denied Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, while at the other end teenager Timothy Weah twice went close and Christopher Nkunku curled one over.
After the break, an Nkunku free kick drew a flying save from Arsenal substitute Emiliano Martinez, before Weah went down for a 59th-minute penalty which Nkunku converted with aplomb. But Lacazette hit back with two goals in four minutes — first a sumptuous, near-post heel-flick which sailed past the nonplussed Buffon, and then a close-range header.
Substitute defender Holding added the fourth with a towering header on 87 minutes, before Nketiah swept home Arsenal’s fifth with the last kick of the game.
Emery’s Arsenal, edged on penalties by Atletico Madrid on Thursday, enjoyed their first high-profile win under Emery, who takes the reins after Arsene Wenger’s 22 years in charge.
Ozil, who is of Turkish heritage, sent shockwaves through Germany this week when he quit the national team complaining of “racism and disrespect” from football authorities.