Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta appears to have turned a corner after back-to-back victories over Chelsea and Brighton but tensions continue to simmer beneath the surface, with one star reportedly challenging the Spaniard at a recent team meeting.
Arteta made a statement by leaving Mesut Ozil out of his Premier League and Europa League plans at the start of this season and the 38-year-old expects ‘a lot of players’ to leave this January as he looks to ruffle a few feathers and cut the deadwood from his squad.
However, many unhappy and frustrated squad members including Ozil – still the club’s top earner on eye-watering wages of £350,000-a-week – will remain in north London until the end of the season which has inevitably caused friction.
According to The Daily Mirror, one ‘disaffected’ senior player even challenged Arteta in front of his stunned team-mates. It’s claimed the unnamed individual questioned why other first-team stars have been treated differently this term.
It paints a picture of a worryingly fractured Arsenal dressing room, despite the team’s recent upturn in form.
On Thursday, Sead Kolasinac completed a six-month loan move to former club Schalke and several others are expected to follow the Bosnian out the exit door at the Emirates this winter.
Central defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Calum Chambers are among those deemed surplus to requirements and both are hoping to secure moves before the January transfer window closes.
Arsenal will be desperate to get 2021 off to a positive start when they take to the field against 19th-placed West Brom this weekend.
The Gunners can it three wins from three for the first time in the Premier League this campaign but Arteta is anticipating a ‘tough test’ at the Hawthorns.
Asked what he’s made of the Baggies under new manager Sam Allardyce, Arteta said: ‘Well, two very different matches.
‘The first one against Liverpool, when they had a really clear plan and they executed it really good.
‘I think even going 1-0 they didn’t really change anything at all. They knew they were gonna have their moments. They grew and they got into the game, and were much more efficient in the second half and put Liverpool in trouble.
‘His teams are always organised and they know exactly what to do so, it will be a tough test again.’