Soccer

Mikel Arteta vows to clear out Arsenal flops after Emmanuel Petit criticism

Mikel Arteta has hit back at claims he is running a holiday camp by insisting anyone lacking the passion to play for Arsenal will be turfed out.

Gunners great Emmanuel Petit last night slammed his old club, who are tenth in the Premier League, as a “retreat” where old players “just go for a vacation.”

Petit, who won the Double with Arsenal in 1998, also claimed “the younger players are the only ones showing passion, fight and aggression.”

But while Arteta defended his flops by admitting some naturally show more passion than others, he also insisted you won’t survive long at Arsenal without it.

Asked about Petit’s criticism, Arteta said: “He knows the club well. He was here in their most successful years and has that opinion. I’m here to change that opinion.

“I am here to give my evaluation of what I see every day and where we are and I know where we are and where we want to go. We have to respect that.

“Showing passion goes with the character. People who are much more extrovert than introvert show more emotion with their body language than others.

“But it doesn’t mean it does not hurt as much. For sure, players who don’t have that passion, that emotion and that commitment, they won’t be in this football club.”

Arteta has already shown his ruthless side by forcing out older, higher-paid players like Mesut Ozil, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi.

But with Arsenal now ten points adrift of a Champions League place the Europa League looks like a last chance to return to Europe’s top table.

And it’s clear that former France World Cup winner Petit’s stung the Spaniard ahead of tonight’s clash with Slavia Prague.

Petit said: “When I look at the older players in the team, it's like they think it's a retreat football club, somewhere you just go for a vacation.

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  • “I don't really expect them to win big games anymore. If you took away the name 'Arsenal' and looked at that group of players… average.

    “At the end of the season, if I'm Arteta, I think my main concern is getting half of the dressing room out. Honestly.

    “It shouldn't be at a club like Arsenal that the younger players are the only ones showing passion, fight and aggression.”

    Arteta also confirmed that Kieran Tierney won’t be back in training for up to six weeks after suffering knee ligament damage.

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