Speaking on BT Sport during their live coverage of Villarreal vs Arsenal, former Gunners defender Martin Keown made an astonishing claim about Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard has come under a lot of criticism for the way he set his side up against Unai Emery’s men. Arsenal played without a recognised striker – even though Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all available.
Keown was quick to jump on that train of criticism. He simply cannot understand why Arteta is reluctant to use Martinelli, and when pressed for a possible reason, he boldly claimed that the Arsenal boss does not like the Brazilian.
He said: “I’ve been concerned as to why that player is not playing. Because the manager doesn’t like him. It’s as simple as that.
“I’m not there every day, I’m not on the training ground. I thought it was very interesting Odegaard had gone internationally and said ‘this is the best young player I’ve ever seen’, and he’s from Real Madrid!
“So now it’s time to let him fly. Let’s look at the positives. Let’s support him. When he came into the team I thought he did a great job. Not only was he making runs down the middle but he was coming back.
“He was like a Duracell battery. Keep him in the team. Play him. You’ve seen what you’ve done with Smith Rowe and Saka. Support him!”
The Insider’s View:
Keown has certainly jumped the gun there with his ridiculous claim, but it really is a shock to all Arsenal fans to see Martinelli not get the chances from the start he arguably deserves.
We all know that Arteta is protecting him and does not want to fully unleash him until he’s ready. However, he surely deserves more minutes than he’s currently getting – even off the bench.
Martinelli brought some serious energy into the game when he came on. Arteta simply has to give him a start against Newcastle on Sunday, and if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang isn’t fully ready for next week, Gabi should get the nod for the return leg as well.