Keown says Mikel Arteta “doesn’t like Gabriel Martinelli” in astonishing claim

It was another frustrating night for Arsenal as they went down to a 2-1 defeat at Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.

First half goals from Manuel Trigueros and Raul Albiol had put this Spanish side in full control, while a red card early in the second period for Dani Ceballos threatened to make it a nightmare evening for the Gunners.

However, a Nicolas Pepe penalty and subsequent sending off of Villarreal midfielder Etienne Capoue helped restore some pride and hope for Mikel Arteta’s side.

Despite the tie hanging in the balance, it was another bad night for the Gunners – with a spate of changes in the second half, including Gabriel Martinelli replacing Martin Odegaard.

Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli

Martin Keown, a studio pundit in BT Sport’s coverage of the game, made an astonishing claim about Arteta’s treatment of the Brazilian striker.

Martinelli has started just five Premier League games so far this campaign and is yet to be included in a starting line-up during the club’s European journey this season.

Keown said on the coverage, when speaking of Martinelli: “I’ve been concerned as to why that player is not playing.”

When pushed for an answer why, Keown responded: “Because the manager doesn’t like him. It’s as simple as that.

“I’m not there everyday, I’m not on the training ground. I thought it was very interesting Odegaard had gone internationally and said ‘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.

“Keep him in the team. Play him. You’ve seen what you’ve done with Smith Rowe and Saka. Support him.”

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