Premier League • England

Arteta lays bizarre Arsenal issue to rest – ‘the more we talk about it the worse we make it’

Michael Oliver sending off Gabriel Martinelli

Mikel Arteta insisted a meeting with the PGMOL over their spate of red cards is “happening soon”, but is keen to keep the situation out of the press.

Arsenal have received a remarkable seven red cards this season alone. Four of the dismissals have come in the last six matches, with Gabriel Martinelli the latest to see red when committing two yellow card offences in the same passage of play against Wolves.

For a team fighting tooth and nail to snatch fourth spot, going down to 10 men so frequently is an issue Arteta must address.

Indeed, the Spaniard suggested he and the club would seek an explanation from the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) for what he believes have been several unwarranted red cards.

Now, speaking in his Friday press conference (via Football London), Arteta was asked if he’d been in contact with the PGMOL yet.

“Not yet,” said Arteta. “That’s happening soon but obviously we have reported our opinion and the lack of understanding of the [Martinelli] decision.”

‘Talking is making it worse’ – Arteta

When asked how he intends to remedy the spate of dismissals, Arteta stated he’ll avoid bringing it up in the media with the Spaniard seemingly of the belief it is only making the referees more card-happy.

“Probably don’t talk about it no more,” said Arteta. “I think the more we talk about it the worse we’re making it.”

The Gunners host Brentford in a 3pm kick-off tomorrow, and barring Martinelli through suspension, Arteta has a full compliment to choose from.

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“We are all good,” said Arteta. “The doubt was Tomi (Tomiyasu) which is still not perfect.

“But he’s trained the last few days so he’s in contention and we can use him so that’s good. Gabi’s (Martinelli) out because of the red card but the rest of the players are OK.”

Clean sheets are “non-negotiable”

Arteta was then asked about his side’s increased ability to keep clean sheets this season. Indeed Arsenal boast the league’s joint-fifth meanest defence at present, and have an impressive 11 clean sheets to their name.

The manager insisted that is by design, and is something that is “non-negotiable” if Arsenal are to achieve their true ambitions.

“The best teams that win and play in the Champions League, [clean sheets are] a non-negotiable,” added Arteta.

“Our creative attacking play has improved but has more to improve, our efficiency in front of goal must improve.”

On the hotly-contested race for fourth that includes Man Utd, West Ham, Tottenham and Wolves, Arteta is refusing to look too far ahead.

The Gunners boss concluded: “Game by game. We have to win tomorrow and then we’ll be closer to that objective.

“There’s still a long way to go, lots of things are going to change and we have to be ready to play within the context that this is going to happen.”

PREDICTIONS: One step forward two back for Man Utd; surprise disagreement on Man City v Spurs; Arsenal dealt blow