Arsenal boss Arteta set to tackle red cards crisis

Concern after latest sending-off

Thursday, 17th February — By Steve Barnett


WITH a place in the top four of the Premier League very much up for grabs, Mikel Arteta has two vital puzzles to solve: how to get Arsenal scoring more goals, and how to keep 11 players on the pitch.

The Gunners have found the back of the net just twice in six games so far in 2022 and, as a consequence, have been knocked out of both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. Even more alarming is the fact that during that time they have picked up four red cards.

The latest dismissal came in the 1-0 win at Wolves last Thursday when Gabriel Martinelli was given his marching orders in very unusual circumstances after being booked twice in one passage of play: once for stopping a throw-in, and then for a foul on Chiquinho.

It means the Brazilian forward will miss the game against Brentford on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium at a time when Arsenal can ill afford to have less firepower in their starting line-up.

Arteta said he is “very worried” about the club’s disciplinary issues, and has even admitted that he is “out of ideas” when it comes to tackling the problem.

“We know that playing with 10 men in this league you’re not going to get points, enough points, and we have to stop it,” said the Gunners’ boss. “But to be fair it’s difficult to find more arguments and more ways to transmit that to the players.

“Everybody says it’s the most disciplined group they’ve seen in the last 15 years, but still we are getting red cards.

“We’ve played four of the last six games with 10 men and to win football matches in this league is very, very difficult – and with 10 men it’s almost impossible.

“If we want to have any chance of getting to the objectives that we want, we have to continue to play the remaining 16 games with 11 players.”

Martinelli’s absence against Brentford on Saturday is set to open the door for Emile Smith Rowe to return to Arsenal’s starting line-up.

One Arsenal fan who is tipping Arteta to restore the glory days once enjoyed during Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager is former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Islington North MP said: “Well I’ve always defended St Arsene, and I won’t stop. Arteta, well, I’m not sure. But they seem to have turned a corner.

“A 1-0 win at Wolves was a very good result. Backs to the wall stuff. I’ve got a good feeling about the rest of the season, I think we’re going to end up fourth. European football is coming back!”

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