Mikel Arteta seems to know what he doesn’t want in a player, with the under-pressure Arsenal manager having overseen several departures since taking charge at the Emirates
Mikel Arteta is under huge pressure after his Arsenal side lost their first three Premier League games without scoring a goal.
The Gunners were blown away in a 5-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, having also no answer to Chelsea or Brentford in their first two matches – although there was a glimmer of hope with a 6-0 Carabao Cup thrashing of West Brom last week.
Arteta signed Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Nuno Tavares and Aaron Ramsdale this summer as he looks to improve on successive eighth-placed finishes in the Premier League.
Since taking charge in December 2019, he has also frozen several players out of his plans – including two World Cup winners, a £27million centre-back and a midfielder who became a prolific goalscorer.
Here, Mirror Sport takes a look at Arteta’s exiled Arsenal XI – who some might feel could give the current team a run for their money based on recent form.
Emiliano Martinez staked his claim for more game time after impressing for Arsenal while Bernd Leno was injured during the Premier League’s restart last summer.
But Arteta kept faith with Leno, allowing Martinez to be sold to Aston Villa for £15million in September.
Martinez went on to have fine season for Dean Smith’s side, keeping 15 clean sheets to be beaten only by Ederson and Edouard Mendy in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Glovs award.
He also starred in Argentina’s Copa America triumph, playing every minute bar one group game.
Defence: Mavropanos, Saliba, Luiz, Mustafi
There has been a big defensive turnover under Arteta, who has brought Gabrial Magalhaes, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares to Arsenal before signing White and Tavares this summer.
David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis have all departed under Arteta’s reign, while fellow centre-backs William Saliba and Dinos Mavropanos are out on loan.
Mavropanos rejoined Stuttgart this summer after spending last season at the Bundesliga club, where boss Pellegrino Matarazzo described him as “our gladiator” and “a monster”.
Sokratis and 2014 World Cup winner Mustafi saw their contracts terminated by mutual consent early this year after failing to impress Arteta, and are now at Olympiacos and Schalke respectively.
Alan Walter/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
David Luiz was released this summer, with the veteran error-prone having been brought in to add experience to the Gunners defence in a £7m switch from Chelsea in the summer of 2019.
But perhaps the most remarkable story is that of Saliba, who was signed under Unai Emery’s charge from Saint-Etienne for £27m before being loaned back to the French club.
After the Ligue 1 season was curtailed last year due to the pandemic, Arteta and his staff felt the then teenager didn’t have enough top-level experience to compete for a place, and he had a subsequent loan spell at Nice before switching to Marseille for the current campaign.
Midfield: Torreira, Guendouzi, Ozil, Willock
Lucas Torreira was slammed by Arsenal fans after he posted pictures from a theme park on the day Arteta’s side began their Premier league campaign with a humbling defeat by Brentford.
It’s been so long since he turned out for the Gunners that maybe even he forgot he was an Arsenal player, having fallen firmly out of favour under Arteta.
The midfielder is currently on loan with Fiorentina , having spent last season at Atletico Madrid where he played a minor role as Diego Simeone’s side won La Liga.
Arsenal have so far had no luck in offloading him permanently – and likewise with Matteo Guendouzi, who has teamed up with Saliba on loan at Marseille.
Guendouzi was frozen out after clashing with Brighton’s Neal Maupay last summer, and was shipped out to Hertha Berlin last term.
Another player given the cold shoulder by Arteta was Mesut Ozil, who last played for the Gunners in March 2020, and was sidelined even when they were crying out for more creativity from midfield.
World Cup winner Ozil lifted three FA Cups at the Emirates, and posted 77 assists in 254 games as well as chipping in with 44 goals.
But many fans felt his lack of work rate let him down, and he was allowed to leave in January to join Fenerbahce.
Ozil took a while to warm up at his boyhood club but has made a more promising start to this season, with a goal and an assist from his side’s opening two Super Lig games.
But one player who had an almost immediate impact at another club was Joe Willock, who joined Newcastle in a £26m deal this month after proving a hit at St James’ Park last season.
After joining Steve Bruce’s side on loan in February, he scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League games to help the Magpies stay clear of the drop zone.
Attack: Willian, Mkhitaryan
Okay, so there’s no recognised striker here, with Arteta having persuaded Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to sign a new deal last summer, while Alex Lacazette remains at the Emirates despite constant speculation over his future.
But if Willian exits the Emirates as expected in this transfer window, he and attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan would complete the line-up of senior players who have left either on loan or permanently during Arteta’s tenure.
Willian joined Arsenal on a three-year deal following a free transfer last summer, but he struggled to replicate the form that saw him notch 63 goals and 62 assists in 339 games for Chelsea.
Over the weekend it was reported that the 33-year-old was willing to rip up his Gunners contract and take a 70% pay cut to join his former club Corinthians in his native Brazil.
Meanwhile, Mkhitaryan had already made a temporary switch to Roma when Arteta took charge in 2019, and the former Manchester United man was allowed to join the Giallorossi permanently on a free transfer last summer.