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Disastrous City return for Arsenal boss Arteta

PUBLISHED: 07:22 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 07:22 18 June 2020

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

PA Wire/PA Images

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta endured a disastrous first return to the Etihad Stadium as former club Manchester City inflicted a 3-0 defeat on his side in their Premier League return on Wednesday night.

Referee Anthony Taylor shows Arsenal's David Luiz a red card after a challenge on Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez inside the box resulting in a penalty during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.Referee Anthony Taylor shows Arsenal's David Luiz a red card after a challenge on Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez inside the box resulting in a penalty during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Having not played since March 7 due to the suspension of football during the coronavirus pandemic, the Gunners suffered two injuries inside the opening quarter of the match.

Midfielder Granit Xhaka left on a stretcher after an early ankle injury, while defender Pablo Mari pulled up midway through the first half as he also saw his return to action halted.

“They are getting assessed at the moment and we will know something more probably tomorrow morning,” said Arteta.

“Pablo’s one did not look really good, to be fair.”

Arteta left his role as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at City in December to take the Arsenal hotseat.

But he saw Mari’s replacement David Luiz make a costly mistake in first-half stoppage time, which led to Raheem Sterling’s opener, then concede a penalty and receive a red card soon after the restart.

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Kevin de Bruyen converted from the spot and Luiz’s rustiness was key to the loss, with the Brazilian out of contract at the end of June.

“I don’t know what will happen with his contract,” Arteta said.

“I know what happened today. I know the way David reacted because I know him well, not only as a player but a person as well.

“There was a reason why I didn’t select him from the start and he had to play because Pablo got injured.

“He’s always going to try and give you his best.”

Phil Foden netted the third City goal in injury time and Arteta kept things short in his virtual post-match press conference, giving little away when asked about the absence of Mesut Ozil from the 20-man squad.

“It was a tactical reason,” he said, before adding upon being pushed: “Because I need players in other positions as well, so that’s why I decided to leave him out.”

Defeat left Arsenal in ninth place, still five points behind fifth-placed Manchester United, with nine games remaining and a trip to lowly Brighton up next on Saturday.


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