“I can’t bench him for you no matter how bad he plays, he will always start all matches for Arsenal except when he’s injured”- Mikel Arteta says he has an untouchable player he can never sub off after snubbing a player who was already on the touch line against Sevilla last night.
Arsenal has a new untouchable as Mikel Arteta’s snub pays off in a close victory. Sevilla triumphs.
Arsenal defeated Sevilla 2-1 in the Champions League, with Mikel Arteta impressing the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan with two performances in particular.
After a close 2-1 win over Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Arsenal made a successful comeback to the Champions League, giving Mikel Arteta a big boost in their qualification ambitions.
The Gunners had lost their previous visit to Lens, but Arteta’s side produced a professional performance to reclaim top spot in Group B with a hard-fought win in Seville on a rainy night. Express Sport looks at four things we noticed throughout the tense match on Tuesday night…
Arteta is saved by Jesus.
The Arsenal machine took some time to start running. When the two Brazilians – and two Gabriels – united with a mesmerizing move in first-half stoppage time, there could only be one result.
Gabriel Jesus used his confidence and swagger to take two defenders out of the game with a brilliant ‘Cruyff’ turn while facing his own goal and under pressure from two defenders. His pass to Martinelli was perfectly weighted in a second. The kid kept his cool, rounded the goalkeeper and finishing home softly.
Then it was Jesus’ chance to dazzle the people of Seville. He sprinted inside and found half a yard to get a shot away against Jesus Navas on the touchline, looping a spectacular attempt into the far corner.
That was the type of finish Arsenal paid £45 million for from their No 9, and Arteta will be hoping it is the first of many this season as they contend on four fronts.
Once again, a pair is left out.
What else can Leandro Trossard do to persuade Arteta that he is more than just a stand-in for Bukayo Saka and deserves a spot on his team? Only three days after saving a point for Arsenal in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, the 28-year-old found himself on the bench, with Saka and Martinelli preferred.
Trossard has five goal contributions (four goals, one assist) in only 365 minutes of action this season in eight games. It’s not as if he’s just there to make up the numbers; Arteta must be aware of his contribution, but the Spaniard understands that removing Saka or Martinelli without an injury worry isn’t an option.
Then there’s Kai Havertz, who was handed a 20-minute runout after looking a little lost in midfield against Chelsea. With so little opportunities in the club, how can the German be expected to contribute after his £65 million summer move? Arteta’s rejection of both may have succeeded on this occasion, but if he doesn’t give Trossard and Havertz additional time soon, he may be left with two dissatisfied stars.
Partey’s skepticism grows.
Thomas Partey has been a source of concern for Arteta for some time, with the Ghanaian appearing to be more absent than present during the last two years.
Arteta, 30, was ruled out again after suffering a muscular injury in training, and his countenance said it all. This is becoming an issue for Arsenal, who cannot count on a player being available for barely a third or even half of a season.
That’s why he jumped at the chance to sign Jorginho in January, with the Italian playing alongside Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard in the midfield. Partey, the left back in England, must be wondering if his time at the Emirates is coming to an end with his latest injury absence.
Raya reacts to criticism
Gary Neville described him as ‘lost’. Arteta was not convinced.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger might easily have dropped David Raya after his blunder against Chelsea on Saturday, but he has made his bed, and the 40-year-old intends to sleep in it as Aaron Ramsdale waits patiently.
Raya responded to criticism about his performance perfectly and did very little wrong in his distribution, while the loanee appeared assured in seizing the ball from crosses.
He wasn’t to blame for Gudelj’s header because no one picked up the Serbian at the front post and he nearly palmed into his own net at the end, but Arteta will feel vindicated in sticking with Raya after he escaped another error in Seville.