Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi was dropped from Sunday’s squad to face Newcastle after a row with boss Mikel Arteta, according to reports.
Guendouzi has become one of the Gunners’ most trusted players in recent seasons and featured in 21 of his side’s 25 Premier League games before the clash against Steve Bruce’s side, appearing on the bench for the other four.
However, the Frenchman was nowhere to be seen against the Magpies as Arsenal went with Dani Ceballos in midfield, following his return from a long-term injury.
According to The Telegraph, Guendouzi’s absence was the result of a bust-up between himself and Arteta during Arsenal’s warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
The North London side had travelled to the Middle East during the winter break to recuperate ahead of the final stages of the season, with Arteta also using it to take a closer look at January arrivals Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares.
However, the focus of the trip soon turned to the argument, which happened as a result of the no-nonsense approach to discipline and work rate Arteta has instilled since he replaced Unai Emery in the dugout.
The newspaper says that Arteta is “not afraid to be blunt” if he feels his players are not following instructions properly, a perspective which players have reacted to differently.
While some have been “impressed and taken aback” after a regression under Emery, Guendouzi – one of the more outspoken members of the group – reportedly showed a lack of attitude in Dubai and paid the ultimate price.
The argument is said to have resumed later on in the team’s hotel, with a member of Arteta’s coaching staff also involved.
It is claimed that Guendozi is now facing a fight to gain back the trust of Arteta, who was mightily impressed with Ceballos’ impact on Sunday.
The manager said of his on-loan compatriot: “Dani Ceballos is a good example.
“He was injured and when he started to train I didn’t think he was fit enough.
“He completely changed his behaviour and trained like an animal. I thought he was the best player on the pitch.”
Arsenal’s next game, on Thursday, sees them face Olympiacos in Greece in the first leg of their last 32 Europa League tie.
In other news, the Gunners are reportedly working hard to tie youngster Bukayo Saka down to a new contract amid interest from Premier League rivals.
Saka, who currently earns £3,000 per week at the Emirates after progressing from the club’s academy this season, only has 18 months left on his current deal.
And with the likes of Liverpool and Bayern Munich circling, Arsenal want the winger to stick around for the long term.