A man has admitted attempting to rob Arsenal players Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac in an incident originally thought to be an attempted carjacking. Ozil and Kolasinac were targeted on Platts Lane, Hampstead, north-west London on July 25.
A gang of men, two of whom have now been named publicly, pulled up beside Ozil's Mercedes G Class 4x4, boxing in the German and team-mate Kolasinac before brandishing weapons at the Gunners pair.
Ozil reportedly fled the scene to take shelter in a nearby Turkish restaurant, while Kolasinac stood his ground and attempted to fight off the assailants. Aided by restaurant staff, the duo were ultimately unharmed as the criminals sped off empty-handed.
Both players missed Arsenal's opening games of the Premier League season due to further security concerns regarding their personal safety, but they may now be able to rest easily knowing that one of the attackers has owned up, while another will face charges later this week.
Ashley Smith appeared via video link at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to attempted robbery. Smith, 30, has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced by Judge Sheelagh Canavan at the same court on November 1.
Co-defendant Jordan Northover, 26, of West Yorkshire, is due to appear before magistrates on Friday, having also been charged with attempted robbery and threatening a person with an offensive weapon in a public area.
Kolasinac has started the Gunners' past four top-flight matches, although Ozil has only made two senior appearances in all competitions so far this term , with boss Unai Emery giving very little away regarding the German's role in his long-term plans.
"He’s our player now," Emery said of Ozil on Wednesday. "We are going to train and after we are going to decide. I am going to decide the best first XI and also the best squad who can help us."
The manager had originally cited rotation as the reason he left Ozil out of the travelling party for September's Europa League exertions, stating:
“We are playing now a lot of matches and I want to use different players and also can have some rotation in the first 11 and in the 19 players in the squad.
“I prefer after Sunday’s match [for him] to rest and train and to be ready for Sunday [against Aston Villa].”
Ozil, however, did not get off the bench against Villa.