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Mikel Arteta’s disciplinary outrage as four first-team stars put on the chopping block


The Gunners boss has openly explained his thoughts and frustration surrounding Arsenal’s growing red card problem that marred the majority of their five January fixtures

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Mikel Arteta has insisted Arsenal must look to change the culture within the club via the players they sign moving forward as ill-discipline has cost the Gunners on a number of different occasions this season.

Since the Spaniard took over in the Emirates hot-seat way back in December of 2019, Arsenal have received significantly more red cards than the rest of their fellow Premier League sides.

Across all competitions, Arsenal have seen a whopping 14 players receive their marching orders since Arteta’s first game at the helm on Boxing Day over two years ago.

Three of those came in the last month alone, which in turn has prompted the Arsenal boss to reflect on his side’s poor disciplinary record after a miserable January saw Arsenal fail to score a single goal in five games in three different competitions.

“We played three games out of five with 10 men, and if that’s one of the things in the last 17 games that we continue to do, our chances to be where we are going to be really low,” Arteta told the club website.

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HAVE YOUR SAY! Why do Arsenal have the worst discipline record in the Premier League since Arteta took over? Comment below

Mikel Arteta has explained what his side must do to improve their disciplinary record

“We have to play with 11 players on the pitch. We need most of the players available and fit as much as possible.

“We need to maintain the togetherness. We have to keep improving our game model and we have to go game by game.”

When pressed on how Arsenal can avoid ill-discipline in future, Arteta gave what felt like a loaded response aimed at certain players.

“I think there are a few factors,” he said. “First of all how we raise them throughout our academy, the type of characters that we build and that’s the best way to do it in that pathway.

“Then, in recruitment, the type of characters and personalities that you are signing and making sure that they are the right ones to fit within your culture and then the other one is living by example.

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“So when you see certain behaviours daily, they become habits and those habits are easy to follow and once they’re integrated, I don’t think anybody can escape from that and try to do something different, because it gets exposed.”

Arsenal’s recruitment could be partly to blame for the times they’ve had to contend a clash with a numerical disadvantage given their clear tendency to sign players who pick up silly red cards.

Gabriel Magalhaes was the first of three Arsenal players to be red carded in January

Mirror Football has identified four culprits who all have questionable disciplinary records who could be ousted from the club come the upcoming summer transfer window.

While there are only four guilty parties named, a special mention must go to Gabriel Magalhaes who has been dismissed twice in a season and a half at the club.

The Brazilian has emerged as a crucial player for the Gunners this term and is unlikely to be sold, despite his tendency to put in a reckless challenge or two.

Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka’s most recent red card came away at Liverpool
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The most obvious offender of them all, Xhaka has been sent off a remarkable five times in an Arsenal shirt.

The Switzerland international actually boasts 11 red cards across his career in total, but analysing the ones in question – all stem from some kind of rush of blood to the head.

Whether it be throttling Ashley Westwood or volleying Diogo Jota in the chest, Xhaka’s reckless nature has cost his club one too many times.

It is for that reason that links of a move to Roma may come as a surprise given he comes with obvious baggage for any potential suitor, but Jose Mourinho has been an admirer for a while now.

Though Xhaka penned an extension at the Emirates last summer, it seems clear that it was only done to preserve value rather than actually pledge his long-term future to the Gunners.

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Arsenal are more than willing to sanction his departure if the right fee comes in and a suitable replacement is found as Arteta would undoubtedly prefer a central midfielder who isn’t constantly walking a tightrope with referees.

Matteo Guendouzi

Guendouzi was frozen out after his clash with Brighton’s Neal Maupay in the summer of 2020
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Tipped by many as the heir to Xhaka’s throttle throne after he put his hands around the neck of Brighton’s Neal Maupay, Guendouzi has never seen eye-to-eye with Arteta.

Enticed to the Emirates from Lorient by Unai Emery, the promising French midfielder has somehow only actually ever been sent off once in his career.

That particular incident came while in the colours of Lorient, but he could have arguably been dismissed for his conduct at the Amex or for rugby tackling Wilfried Zaha to the ground during a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace prior to Arteta’s arrival.

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Currently on loan in his home country with Ligue 1 giants Marseille, Guendouzi has impressed the Stade Velodrome faithful.

But given the recent transfer ban imposed on Marseille, it is unlikely they sign him on a permanent basis this summer – meaning he’ll return to Arteta’s Arsenal and likely be sold elsewhere.

Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe was sent off for a headbutt during a trip to Leeds last season

While the Ivorian is not seen as someone who often falls foul of referees, he boasts more Arsenal red cards than Guendouzi after his bizarre moment of ill-discipline last term.

During an away clash with Leeds United at Elland Road, Pepe clashed with North Macedonian international Ezgjan Alioski while the ball was elsewhere on the pitch.

VAR replays showed Pepe headbutted Alioski during a Gunners attack with very little provocation from the now-former Leeds defender and Anthony Taylor was left with little choice but to reach for his red.

After the game, Arteta was asked for his thoughts on the incident, to which he simply described the winger’s conduct as “unacceptable.”

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Seemingly out of favour and behind Bukayo Saka in the pecking order anyway, it would come as little surprise if Arteta tried to cash in on the club’s record £72m man in the summer.

Eddie Nketiah

Eddie Nketiah was shown a red card eventually after VAR intervened

The striker received his first career red card during project restart after a high tackle against Leicester City during a 1-1 draw with the Foxes at the Emirates.

His challenge was initially deemed a yellow card offence by Chris Kavanagh before VAR intervened and ensured the Gunners were reduced to 10 yet again.

England U-21’s record goalscorer has been widely touted with a departure at the end of the season anyway given his contract expires in June.

Crystal Palace seemed the most likely destination but the fact they have recently bolstered their attacking options has potentially poured cold water on Nketiah’s move to Selhurst Park.

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