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Mikel Arteta’s familiar ‘worry’ costs Arsenal once again as Gunners boss left seething

By Daniel Orme

Mikel Arteta saw one of his main Arsenal worries rear its head once again as the Gunners went down 3-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby.

The visitors were batted aside by their fierce rivals on Thursday night, Harry Kane twice finding the back of the net, with Son Heung-Min rounding off proceedings shortly before the break. It looked set to be an ugly evening for the visitors as they capitulated in the first-half.

Cedric Soares conceded the penalty that Kane opened the scoring from before centre-back Rob Holding was sent off for two quickfire bookable offences, the latter being an elbow on Son. The defender’s dismissal was the 16th in all of Arteta’s tenure, with the Spaniard having previously expressed his concern over the Gunners’ discipline.

Asked back in January whether he was worried about Arsenal ’s collection of red cards, he simply replied: “Yes. We played the last three games with ten men. When you do that it's difficult to win matches."

Despite having previously signalled his concern over the disciplinary issues at the Emirates Stadium, it would be fair to assume that he did not adopt the same stance as Paul Tierney over either Holding’s red card or indeed the first-half penalty decision. The Spaniard was left furious after the final whistle.

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Speaking with Sky Sports, he said: "If I say what I think I am suspended for six months. I don't know how to lie so I prefer not to say what I think. I cannot say what I think.

"I want the referees to come in front of the camera and explain his decisions. It's a shame because such a beautiful game was destroyed today.

"I am not unhappy with my players. I am proud of my players. The decision was made. We can't change it. The referee has to make a decision in football."

Holding’s red card leaves Arsenal in an extremely tricky situation as they attempt to seal a Champions League place over the closing weeks of the campaign. The former Bolton Wanderers man will be suspended for Monday’s clash with Newcastle United, whilst there are also doubts over the fitness of the Gunners’ other centre-back options.

Gabriel Magalhaes pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury against Spurs, whilst Ben White was only deemed fit enough to be named amongst the substitutes. Portuguese full-back Nuno Tavares was called upon to play at the heart of the defence in the closing stages of the north London derby defeat, whilst Granit Xhaka was alongside him.

Arteta gave an update on the fitness of his Brazilian centre-back in his post-match press conference. He said: “Gabi is not normally a player who asks to get off the pitch.

“He felt something but hopefully it's not much because obviously having Rob out and Ben with no training sessions, we are really short in that position. It's a muscular problem and we'll have to assess it.”

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Dive Deeper:
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