Mikel Arteta still finds a way to pick a fight with fourth official

Mikel Arteta had little to moan about with no VAR controversy in Champions League victory over Sevilla but Arsenal boss still found a way to pick a fight with fourth official

  • Arsenal 2-0 Sevilla: Gunners on brink of last-16 after bouncing back from defeats
  • No VAR controversies as Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka secured victory 
  • CHRIS SUTTON: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is a CLOWN – It’s All Kicking Off

Animated hand gestures, patrolling the area outside his technical area and, of course, arguing with a fourth official: Mikel Arteta was back.

Back like those VAR-related comments after Newcastle’s winning goal on Saturday had never been made, and back like a letter from the FA asking him to explain his actions was not on its way.

It took just one minute for Arteta to spring to life off his bench, head in hands. Kai Havertz, from a Gabriel Martinelli corner, had headed the ball into the ground while alone in the box.

Such prolificacy would test the patience of many a manager, those in attendance equally as frustrated. Yet by 15 minutes, the Spaniard was already in heated dialogue with fourth official Horatiu Fesnic.

He spent nearly as much time breaching his technical area, and on its fringes, than inside. Particularly when retrieving the ball, ball-boy style.

Mikel Arteta was back on the touchline following the VAR controversy at the weekend

Arteta was still animated on the touchline, and had a heated conversation with the fourth official at one point

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His arms were spread out after Bukayo Saka was felled a number of times in the first half, shouting towards referee Istvan Kovacs to take action.

And Arteta nearly made his way past the halfway line when Martinelli was aggressively taken out by Juanlu after 71 minutes.

Though tonight there was no refereeing controversy for him to become embroiled in.

With a number of starting players recently injured, including Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah, experimentation was required.

Leandro Trossard was used as a false nine, while Havertz slotted into the Odegaard role on the right-hand side of midfield.

Trossard, who was often used in this position last season for Arsenal, scored after 29 minutes.

Overall, he was starved of service, having to drop back further and further to get on the ball. Though, when he managed to get hold of it, flits of his ability could be seen.

The Arsenal boss encourages his side during the victory over Sevilla on Wednesday night

Bukayo Saka took several knocks and was forced off injured late on, much to Arteta’s frustration

Kai Havertz showed glimpses of his potential, but he continues to frustrate with his final ball

Havertz was a separate matter, and interlinked to Trossard’s lack of opportunity. No one expected him to create chances in the same way his Norwegian captain does; not many players can.

But the German was muddled in this role. There was an impressive strike after 55 minutes, cutting in and curling a left-footed shot just wide of the post as he grew into the game. The crowd behind the goal were willing it in, for his sake.

It was a reminder of the quality he possesses, while at the same time further evidence Arteta and Arsenal have yet to find what his best position actually is. Against a Sevilla attack who just had the one shot, such patience was fine. But not against the better sides the Gunners will inevitably face.

As well as referee drama, how to best utilise the £65million Havertz will surely be the other matter on Arteta’s mind at night.


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