Six players Mikel Arteta has laid down the law to since joining Arsenal

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Mikel Arteta may be in his first job as a manager at Arsenal – but he has already shown he’s certainly not afraid to be tough with his players, 

A number of Arsenal players have found themselves out of the side and challenged by their new manager since the former Manchester City coach replaced Unai Emery in the dugout.

We’ve taken a look at six players Arteta has laid down the law to.

Mesut Ozil

Ozil’s been a wonderful player for Arsenal, but Arteta clearly doesn’t pick players on what they’ve done in the past.

Indeed, he hasn’t given Ozil a single minute of action since March 7, making it extremely clear that the German has to do a lot more to be considered for a place in the team.

“The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving.

“This is where we are at the moment. We want to evolve more and play better and compete better. We need to keep maintaining that.

“You can see that the players we are changing, we are using, it’s very difficult every week – not [just] for Mesut – but for some other players as well to make the squad.”

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Maitland-Niles started at right-back in Arteta’s first five matches, but lost his place to Hector Bellerin and was dropped from the squad after turning up late for training.

“It doesn’t bother me what people label me as because I think the management know themselves,” Maitland-Niles told the Daily Telegraph in July 2020.

“Ok I was late, maybe once during this manager’s time. It was a mistake, I spoke to the manager and put my hands up and took the consequences. Since then I haven’t been late.

“It was more of a learning experience and holding myself accountable as a man.”

Since the restart, he has come on as a second half substitute in four league matches and played the entire 90 minutes of the Gunners’ 2-1 FA Cup victory against Sheffield United.

Emiliano Martinez

Under Unai Emery, Martinez served as Arsenal’s goalkeeper in the Europa League, only for Arteta to change that policy and start Bernd Leno in both legs of the knockout tie with Olympiakos (which didn’t exactly go too well).

“I like to play the player that I think is in the best condition for that game,” Arteta said. “If it is Emi, it is Emi, And if it’s Bernd, it’s Bernd.”

The Spaniard added: “I don’t make any difference between goalkeepers, full-back, strikers, attacking midfielders. They are all the same. They are part of the squad.

“We try to make the decision based on who we believe is better to win that competition. Players have to respect that, fight and compete between them.”

Leno’s injury against Brighton gave Martinez a rare opportunity in the first team and the goalkeeper has kept three clean sheets in his last four games.

READ: Emiliano Martinez played a long kick so sweet we only want Route One Arsenal

Matteo Guendouzi

Guendouzi is considered one of Arsenal’s best prospects and has become a fan favourite for being the all-round b*stard the club has been crying out for.

But that brought the 20-year-old no favourable treatment from Arteta, who dropped him Arsenal’s matchday squad for the 4-0 victory over Newcastle United in February after being unimpressed by the midfielder’s attitude during a training camp in Dubai over the winter break.

“The reason is that players who, in my opinion, are training better, behaving better and are more applied to deliver on the pitch, what we want, are the players selected,” Arteta told beIN Sports after the game.

Guendouzi was temporarily brought back into the squad but, after refusing to apologise to Arteta and his team-mates following the controversial clash with Brighton, has reportedly been training by himself for the last two weeks.

He has now failed to even make the bench for Arsenal’s last four matches and his future at the club lies in the balance amid speculation he could be sold.

READ: Matteo Guendouzi is the all-round b*stard Arsenal have yearned for

Dani Ceballos

A number of midfielders have had to prove themselves to Arteta, and Ceballos was reportedly considering his Arsenal future in January after meeting with his new boss to discuss his first-team prospects.

When Arteta replaced Emery as manager, Ceballos was back at parent club Real Madrid receiving treatment for an injury.

In January, Arteta urged Ceballos to “make things difficult for me and my selection”. His message was simple: “He needs to get back to fitness and fight for his place.” Ceballos’ argument that he was fully fit suggests the two parties had different standards.

But the midfielder managed to turn things around and looks set to join the Gunners on a permanent deal having cemented his place in Arteta’s starting XI.

Alexandre Lacazette

Lacazette has had a tough time in front of goal in recent months, scoring just four goals in 19 appearances in all competitions under Arteta.

The France international’s poor form coincided with the return of Eddie Nketiah from a loan spell at Leeds United.

Nketiah was widely expected to be loaned out once more but impressed Arteta with his attitude in training so much so that he took Lacazette’s place in the team.

But the 29-year-old did come off the bench to net his first Premier League away goal since February 2019 in the 2-0 win over Wolves.


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