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'I was going to': Arteta explains why he couldn't sub Ceballos off before his red card

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has come under some serious criticism for not withdrawing Dani Ceballos at half-time after the midfielder picked up a yellow card in the first half.

The Gunners conceded two sloppy goals to give Villarreal the lead. Unai Emery’s men were all over us in the first-half, and Arteta had to change something at the break to get us back on track.

Many fans expected Ceballos to come off for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Gabriel Martinelli – mainly because we needed a natural centre-forward, but also as the Spaniard was at the risk of getting sent off.

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Arteta refused to bring him off at the break and that cost us. Ceballos got himself a red card and Arsenal were reduced to 10 men. The Gunners boss explained after the game why he couldn’t bring the midfielder off before he got his marching orders.

He said, as per Football London: “I haven’t seen the action again. Obviously we talked at half time that you have to be careful. There was already a tackle very early, I was going to take him off but by the time Gabi was ready to come on that action happened and he was out.”

If Ceballos could’ve just held on for a few more seconds, Arsenal could’ve had a real go at Villarreal with 11 men on the pitch. However, the fault is still Arteta’s for once again being reactive, not proactive, with his substitutions.

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Arteta needs to change!

How many times have we seen Arteta hold back on substitutions since he took over the club? The answer is far too many times, and that has seriously cost us in multiple games this season.

The Arsenal boss isn’t wrong to trust the players on the pitch to deliver. However, it just doesn’t happen sometimes, and he has to admit that and get underperforming players off to have more of an impact on the game.

Martinelli on at half-time could well have changed the game for Arsenal. Sadly, we’ll never know, but the one thing we do know is that Arteta has to be more proactive with his substitutions, and that has to happen right away.

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