NO PROBLEMS FOR MAN CITY City had no problems at Norwich. Sergio Aguero beat four players before converting for the opener, and assisted on the second, scored by Kelechi Iheanacho. Kevin De Bruyne added the third, shooting though the legs of goalkeeper John Ruddy. Eastleigh went 1-0 up over Bolton in the second half of their match, with an own goal by Bolton defender Dorian Dervite, but Darren Pratley saved humiliation by levelling moments from the end. Villa became the second Premier League side to fail to beat fourth-tier opposition. Villa captain Micah Richards gave his side the lead in the first half, but Joe Jacobson levelled for the Chairboys with a penalty. Everton beat Dagenham 2-0 at Goodison Park with goals from Aruna Kone and Kevin Mirallas. West Brom needed a last-minute goal from James Morrison to draw with second-tier Bristol City 2-2 and earn a replay, while Bournemouth came from a goal behind to beat Birmingham 2-1. Of other Premier League teams, Southampton lost 2-1 against Crystal Palace, Watford beat Newcastle 1-0, West Ham edged Wolverhampton 1-0, and Stoke beat Doncaster 2-1. LONDON (AP): Arsenal began their FA Cup defence with a 3-1 comeback victory against Sunderland and were joined in the fourth round by Manchester United and Manchester City yesterday. United laboured past Sheffield United 1-0 at Old Trafford, and Manchester City emphatically defeated Norwich 3-0. Also, Premier League side Aston Villa were held to 1-1 at fourth-tier Wycombe, while fifth-tier Eastleigh drew 1-1 with second-division side Bolton. It looked as if there could be a shock at Emirates Stadium, where the Premier League leaders fell behind to a Jermaine Lens strike after 17 minutes for Sunderland, who are second-to-last in the league. But Joel Campbell equalised, then two goals in three second-half minutes from substitute Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud ensured Arsenal moved on to the next round. “In the second half, we took over,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We played in their half, scored great goals, and created many chances.” United overcame Sheffield with a penalty from Wayne Rooney with time virtually up, but their performance against third-tier opposition was another display lacking attacking intent. When substitute Memphis Depay tried his luck with a low shot, which went comfortably wide in the 66th minute, it was United’s first attempt at goal, and was greeted with sarcastic cheers by supporters. Depay was felled in the box in the third minute of injury time by Dean Hammond, and Rooney scored from the spot.
Germany take on France in their first ever UEFA Nations League game on Thursday, with all the talk in the camp and in press conferences focusing on one player.Not Antoine Griezmann, who won the World Cup, Europa League and Super Cup in the space of two months over the summer. Not midfielders N’Golo Kante or Paul Pogba, who starred in the centre of the park in Russia. Not teenage superstar Kylian Mbappe, whose number 10 jersey is now iconic for Les Bleus. Instead, everyone is discussing Germany’s own World Cup number 10, a player who will not even take part in the Nations League clash on Thursday evening.At every opportunity, every interview, every press conference, a question was asked about the absence of Mesut Ozil, the five-time national player of the year, who stepped away from international football following Germany’s humiliation at the World Cup in Russia. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Ozil felt scapegoated for Germany’s failures, having taken a lot of flak for posing for a photograph with controversial Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the tournament and confirmed his withdrawal from international football by releasing a three-part statement on social media attacking the German football association (DFB) and political figures in Germany for racism and disrespect.After the World Cup, the DFB and head coach Joachim Low announced that they would perform a sporting analysis of what went wrong in Russia, with the results due to be announced when Low revealed his next international squad. In the meantime, DFB president Reinhard Grindel, as well as a host of former Germany players and even some current internationals such as Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer, denied any evidence of racism within the Germany squad, thus spectacularly missing the point Ozil had raised in his statement.Ozil never accused his team-mates or coaching staff of discrimination, instead highlighting the problem in larger society, where he claimed “If we win, I’m German. If we lose, I’m an immigrant,” but kept his greatest criticism for the DFB and particularly president Grindel. After an initial tepid statement, Grindel eventually conceded that maybe he handled things poorly, but fell far short of apologising for his actions and that of the DFB.All the while, more and more players claimed not to have seen any racism within the Germany camp, with Toni Kroos calling it ‘nonsense’ and Muller blaming the media, while some mixed heritage or foreign players naively trotted out the ‘well it never happened to me’ line. Only Ilkay Gundogan acknowledged that a line had been crossed.In his statement, Ozil never specifically mentioned the word retirement, writing “I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.” The avenue was there for the 29 year old to return to the international fold if changes had been made or even mistakes acknowledged.Instead, Low once again criticised the former Real Madrid star during the squad announcement conference, barely touching on the ‘sporting analysis’ carried out since the World Cup, showing little had changed in the setup of the team or its ostracisation of Ozil.”Mesut Ozil has clearly overstated his allegations of racism,” Low told reporters. “There was never any kind of racism. Throughout the time I was at the DFB, there has never been an approach of racist comments in our team. Mesut and Ilkay have always identified with the values of the national team.”When the Germany squad met for training ahead of the France game, players and coach contined to be asked about Ozil, with the possibility of a return from exile put to Low: “In my view, Mesut Ozil has clearly declared his retirement and closed the door by himself with that, so a comeback is not a topic,” he told Sport Bild.The door is definitely closed for Ozil’s return, but unfortunately the people involved fail to realise that they’ve boarded it up from the inside.