Arsenal manager Unai Emery denied he had a training-ground row with Mesut Ozil in the build-up to his side’s 3-1 Premier League win over West Ham.
Ozil was not included in the matchday squad for the game at the Emirates Stadium and reports in Brazil suggested it was because of a falling out with Emery on Friday.
However the Spaniard insisted that Ozil’s absence was due to illness and that he was at the stadium on Saturday, where he saw Emery earn a first league win thanks to goals from Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck either side of an Issa Diop own goal.
Emery said: “Why is this information (out there). It isn’t true. I don’t know who is telling you this information.
“He sat down with me and we decided that he would not play. He left training because he was going to his home because he is sick.
“Today he was here, I told him to come in if he feels better and he feels better today and before the match he was with the team. He is bad with sickness. There is no problem with the player, speak with the doctor he can explain better.”
After opening with two defeats in games against Manchester City and Chelsea, Emery finally notched a win but this was nowhere near as clear-cut as the scoreline suggests.
They fell behind to Marko Arnautovic’s 26th-minute goal and after Monreal quickly equalised they conceded plenty of chances that West Ham counted the cost of missing.
The Gunners had barely threatened after the break until Diop put through his own net, with Welbeck finishing the job at the death.
Emery added: “We are happy with the first three points, that was the first objective. After the first two results we needed this today, it was important to show our supporters a match with three points.
“It’s clear we need to improve, we will continue working on not conceding as many chances to the opposition.
“They are a good team, a good coach, good players, they caused us problems in the defence. If we defend with more people in the moment we lose an attacking threat. We need to find the balance.”
WAIT CONTINUES FOR PELLEGRINI
While Emery got off the mark, West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is still waiting for his first points as this was the third defeat of the season.
There were plenty of positives to take, though, not least the amount of chances they created.
“I am not very happy with the result, but I am very happy with the performance of the team,” the former Manchester City manager said.
“It is what I want from the players to come here to Arsenal’s stadium against a big team and we did well. We were unlucky to concede an own goal that put Arsenal on top.
“I am very happy because we are in the correct way and soon we will win more games than we are going to lose. We need to have points, but every game we improve a little more.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola refused to criticise referee Martin Atkinson after Willy Boly’s handball goal denied the champions at Wolves.
The defender turned Joao Moutinho’s cross in with his hand and City needed Aymeric Laporte to rescue a 1-1 draw.
Boly’s goal will also increase calls for the introduction of VAR in the Premier League while Sergio Aguero and David Silva had penalty claims rejected on Saturday.
“I didn’t see it. I’m not the referee, never will be,” said Guardiola on Boly’s goal and City’s penalty shouts.
When asked if VAR – yet to be introduced in the Premier League – would have helped City win and cancelled out Boly’s opener, he added: “I don’t work for the Premier League.”
Aguero twice hit the woodwork and Rui Patricio turned Raheem Sterling’s 25-yard half-volley onto the bar.
Raul Jimenez also had a first-half goal disallowed for Wolves, who took the lead through Boly in the 57th minute before Laporte headed in Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick 12 minutes later.
“The game was expected, I’m not surprised. I’m satisfied with how many chances we created,” said Guardiola.
“I don’t have many regrets. There was a lack of rhythm sometimes but in general I’m satisfied with the performance.
“They have an excellent manager and what they have done in the Championship is excellent.
“Some points we could do better but you have to give credit to the opponents.
“We dropped two points but nothing will change after three Premier League games. It’s a long road.”
The draw set a new club record of 17 winless top-flight games for Wolves, going back to their last season in the Premier League in 2011-12.
They have drawn two and lost one of their opening three games but have impressed in every outing and boss Nuno Espirito Santo was happy to take their fortunate opener.
He said: “Last week it (a deflection against Leicester) happened against us. This is football, it’s what we have to be prepared for.
“It doesn’t matter how you score, the referee is there to judge, you have to just be ready.
“You get a goal, it’s about how you react to that. Don’t think it’s luck or unlucky, focus on your tasks and be prepared for the next action.
“It was a good performance overall. We have to be cautious and realising what you have, the opposition is the best team and the champions of the Premier League.
“It was a good game and, if there’s a but, after we score we should have managed a couple of minutes better.
“It’s a growing process, one more to work on and improve for next week.”
Maurizio Sarri admits he owes Rafael Benitez a debt of gratitude.
Chelsea boss Sarri took over from Benitez at Napoli in 2015 and led them to second place behind champions Juventus last season.
It was that success which led Chelsea to turn to the 59-year-old Italian to replace Antonio Conte this summer.
But Sarri insists it was his predecessor who laid the foundations, and he will get the chance to show his appreciation when the Blues travel to Benitez’s Newcastle on Sunday.
“I have to say thank you to Rafa because when I arrived in Naples I had a feeling the team was almost ready to play my football,” he said.
“If I arrived after another coach maybe for me it was more difficult, so I have to say thank you to him.
“I know he is a very good coach. We know on Sunday it will be very difficult for us.
“These opponents are very dangerous for us; last season we lost 3-0, Manchester United lost there, Arsenal lost there, so we know it will be a very difficult day.”
Sarri is a heavy smoker but there is also another habit he cannot give up – his four-man defence.
Chelsea certainly looked defensively frail at times during the 3-2 win over Arsenal last weekend.
Yet although Conte led Chelsea to the title in 2017 after switching to five at the back, Sarri will not be following suit.
“Have we worked on defence this week? Every week,” he said.
“I am not worried about the defence. When I arrive in a new team usually I have problems with the defensive base for two months, so it’s not a problem.
“I am not able to play with five defenders. We are trying to defend by looking only at the ball and if I defend with five defenders I lose metres on the pitch.
“I’m not able. I tried it five years ago, but it’s not my way.”