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Keown says Arteta ‘doesn’t like’ Arsenal star in astonishing claim

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
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Former Arsenal defender Keown has expressed ‘concerned’ over Arteta’s management following the club’s Europa League defeat.

Mikel Arteta’s handling of Gabriel Martinelli concerns Martin Keown, who reckons the Arsenal manager ‘doesn’t like’ the forward.

Martinelli has struggled to win over Arteta since returning from a long-term knee injury in December and was overlooked again for Arsenal’s 2-1 first-leg defeat against Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals.

In fact, Arteta chose to start without a single recognized center-forward on Thursday altogether.

“I’ve been concerned as to why that player is not playing,” Keown told BT Sport on Martinelli.

Asked why Arteta doesn’t start the Brazilian, Keown replied: “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 [Martin] Odegaard had gone internationally and said ‘in training 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.”

Keown added: “Keep him in the team. Play him.

“You’ve seen what you’ve done with [Emile] Smith Rowe and [Bukayo] Saka. Support the young players, that’s where the energy is coming.”