Paul Merson hails Mikel Arteta ‘masterstroke’ for Arsenal win vs Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta speaks to the media after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
Arteta impressed Merson (Picture: Danehouse/Getty)

Paul Merson believes Mikel Arteta produced ‘probably the biggest masterstroke’ of his career to date by dropping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the north London derby.

The Arsenal manager decided to leave his captain out against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with Aubameyang remaining an unused substituted throughout.

Arteta confirmed his skipper was on the bench due to a disciplinary breach, which was believed to have been Aubameyang reporting late for matchday.

His team-mates got the job done without him, fighting back from a goal down with goals from Martin Odegaard and Alexandre Lacazette sealing a vital three points for the Gunners.

Arteta’s move seriously impressed Merson and believes it will have sent a great message to youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka about how they should conduct themselves.

‘Probably the biggest masterstroke of being a manager, and he is a new manager in the game, that is a massive thing what he’s done,’ Merson told Sky Sports.

Paul Merson answers questions during Gillette Soccer Saturday Live with Jeff Stelling on March 19, 2012 at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth, England.
Merson thought it was a ‘masterstroke (Picture: Getty Images)

‘What you’ve got to look at when you discipline the biggest star at the club, he thought with the future of the club.

‘Fair play to Arteta, he’s got to have a look round at people like Smith Rowe and Saka, who are going to be the future, and he’s got to send a message to them kids that whatever he’s [Aubameyang] done wasn’t right.

‘If he didn’t do what he did, then those kids get crossed messages, and then they know that they can’t do that. That’s brilliant management.’

After the match, Arteta explained why high standards of discipline are important to him as a manager.

‘For me they are the foundation and the platform that we can build something medium and long-term that is sustainable and that can bring us joy and happiness,’ said the Arsenal manager.

‘Without that, I don’t believe that it would happen. That’s why I keep talking about it and acting about it.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal FC during the UEFA Europa League match between Olympiacos FC and Arsenal FC at Georgios Karaiskakisstadion on March 11, 2021 in Piraeus, Greece
Aubameyang was dropped (Picture: BSR Agency/Getty)

‘I made what I thought was the right decision and we draw a line there and now let’s move on again.

‘We know how important Auba is for us and for the club and that’s it. It’s been dealt with, now let’s move on.’

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