A group of Arsenal stars who were involved in the ‘hippy crack’ controversy were pictured leaving their London Colney training base on Friday afternoon after the club confirmed they would be called in for talks.
Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were just some of the big names to feature in a video released by The Sun on Thursday night.
The footage appears to show Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette and Matteo Guendouzi using balloons to inhale nitrous oxide — a legal high that can cause potentially dangerous side-effects — at a party in London a few days before the start of the season in August.
On what seems to be CCTV footage, Ozil appears to fall semi-conscious after inhaling from a balloon, while Guendouzi looks as though he loses consciousness altogether during what is claimed to be a private party at the exclusive Tape Club in London’s West End. Aubameyang can be seen sucking from a balloon and laughing.
Ozil appears to offer a balloon to midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 29, who declines to take it and instead sucks on a lollipop.
According to the Sun, Ozil ‘looked out of it at one point’ and that ‘he took a big draw on a balloon then seemed to lose his consciousness and slide down in his seat’. Guendouzi is said to have been ‘even worse’.
German defender Shkodran Mustafi was also seen in the footage but was not filmed having any nitrous oxide, while defender Sead Kolasinac, 25, is another among those on camera.
Arsenal lost the first two games of the Premier League campaign to ‘Big Six’ rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.
Other Premier League players have found themselves the subject of such allegations in the past, with Raheem Sterling, Saido Berahino and Jack Grealish among them.
While the risks from using what is also known as laughing gas from small canisters is generally considered to be low, football clubs are usually unhappy when their players are associated with images such as those published on Thursday.
However while Arsenal and their manager have taken a dim view, there was a plea from the Emirates for perspective. It is believed the night out was planned, with club officials knowing about the players’ party.
There is also a belief at the club that players had attempted to be discreet by requesting a private room at the nightspot.
Emery is likely to play the incident down when he is asked about it for the first time at Saturday’s match against Huddersfield. The Spaniard is determined to ensure his players won’t lose focus before the match, which could see Arsenal extend their unbeaten run to 21 games.
While some discussions over the issue took place on Friday, Emery will draw a line under the matter following talks with those involved.
Emery will decide on any potential formal disciplinary sanctions, though the club are adamant they will stay private.
In another blow, Arsenal have confirmed Rob Holding is out for up to nine months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.