Thursday, December 9, 2021

Arteta says Arsenal players are ´the most honest´ amid Ranieri criticism following win over Watford

SoccerNews in English Premier League 7 Nov 2021

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Mikel Arteta described his players as “the most honest” after Claudio Ranieri accused them of a lack of respect following Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Watford at Emirates Stadium.

The Watford head coach was unhappy that Arsenal did not give the ball back after it had been put out for an injury in the move that led to Emile Smith Rowe’s decisive goal.

The result extended the Gunners’ unbeaten run to 10 games across all competitions and marked Arteta’s 100th game as Arsenal boss with a win.

Arteta issued a staunch defence of his squad’s conduct, revealing that, if anything, he feels his side can occasionally be too honest.

“If I have to define my players, my team and my club, I would say that they are the most honest – all of them,” Arteta said. “At some stages, we can even become naive.

“But still, if [Ranieri] feels like that towards our club, our team, I have to apologise if that’s the case but, for sure that was not the intention to take any advantage.”

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed his second consecutive Premier League penalty, having missed only two of his first 11 in the competition, but Arteta still retains confidence in his skipper’s ability from the spot.

“[Aubameyang] will stay on penalties if he is happy to do so,” Arteta continued. “You will miss if you take penalties, that is part of your career and the job.”

Smith Rowe’s second-half strike earned Arsenal the three points, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles – starting in midfield in the absence of the injured Thomas Partey – put in an impressive performance as Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions.

The 24-year-old was strongly linked with an exit in the most recent transfer window, even posting a message on social media indicating his desire to leave in search of regular minutes.

However, the Englishman was retained and Arteta is glad to have kept hold of the versatile Hale End graduate, saying he has seen a great deal of improvement from Maitland-Niles.

“First of all, I see a different player in terms of [Maitland-Niles’] urgency, his commitment, clarity in his play, his purpose,” Arteta said. “We made a decision. I was clear, with what I was seeing, that I wanted him to stay because he was going to be useful.

“He has a huge talent which is that he is versatile enough to adapt to almost any position on the pitch. When I see him in training sessions, when I see how he prepares, when I see the questions he’s asking, his level of attention – everything you talk through, his response is immediate.

“He’s a really clever boy, a really intelligent boy and I think he has come a long way.”

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