‘If Mikel Arteta doesn’t learn he’ll get the sack’ – Arsenal boss criticised for Europa League team selection as Ray Parlour stunned over Gabriel Martinelli treatment

Mikel Arteta has been warned he will be sacked as Arsenal manager if he doesn’t learn from the Gunners’ Europa League defeat to Villarreal.

talkSPORT has been told the Spaniard was ‘found out’ by axed former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, while Invincibles legend Ray Parlour has questioned Arteta’s baffling treatment of Gabriel Martinelli.

Arteta was criticised for his team selection at Villarreal as no recognised striker started the match
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The Premier League club’s disciplinary issues and woes at the back continued on Thursday night as the ten-man Gunners suffered the embarrassment of losing to their former boss, Emery.

Arteta has been hammered for deciding not to start a striker in the crucial semi-final first leg, opting to field Emile Smith Rowe up front in a Man City style false-nine formation.

But his decision backfired badly, with the boss being labelled a ‘fake Pep Guardiola’ after his side fell to a 2-1 defeat.

The tie is not over. While Arsenal at one point found themselves a man and two goals down, Nicolas Pepe fired in from the penalty spot to give the Gunners hope of still making the final.

But Arteta has been told he can’t make the same mistakes twice ahead of the second leg in north London.

Dani Ceballos was sent off with Villarreal also ending the game with ten men in a dramatic night in the Europa League
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Speaking on Friday’s talkSPORT Breakfast, pundit and ex-England international Trevor Sinclair said: “I think Arteta got it wrong, and I think he got away with it

“The fact they’re still in this tie for the second leg, they’ve got a great chance [of going through to the final].

“But they need to learn. I thought Unai Emery read the script really well.

“They were poor decisions made by Arteta and I feel he’s been found out by a much more experienced, I’m not saying better, but a much more experienced manager who has got one over him.

“If Arteta doesn’t learn, he’s going to get the sack, it’s as simple as that.”

Gunners great Parlour also took aim at Arteta’s team selection for the crucial clash, saying he got a number of positions totally wrong.

And he has questioned why Martinelli didn’t start the match, joking that he ‘must be a terrible trainer’ after the Brazilian starlet’s latest snub.

Parlour said: “I totally agree with you, the team selection…

“You’ve got to play Granit Xhaka [who kept his place as a makeshift left-back] in midfield. Bukayo Saka’s got to go left-back, he’s very athletic and get forward too. Smith Rowe is better in a deeper area and Martinelli, I don’t get what’s going on with Martinelli.

“He changed the game for Arsenal, but he must be terrible in training because he never starts! He’s a very exciting player.

“Those are obvious choices and I thought they were really poor in central midfield, and that is where you dictate the tempo of the game. Tomas Partey didn’t have a good game, he was giving the ball away!”

Martinelli has recovered from a knee injury that has kept him out for a huge chunk of the season, but has not been given regular game time by Arteta – starting on the bench against Villarreal
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Fellow Arsenal legend Martin Keown was also critical of Arteta’s risky starting XI, and said ‘the writing is on the wall’ for the boss if they fail to make it to the final.

“It was an absolutely crazy, mad game,” said the pundit on BT Sport on Thursday night.

“I thought at one stage the writing was on the wall for the manager.

“The team, you think about the risks he took, not playing with a striker, partnerships all over the pitch, it just looked in total disarray.

“That consistency just has not been there. We see the Premier League, tenth in the table, they have got to turn up for the second leg. If they don’t, bad things will happen.

“There will be some big changes at the football club if they do not get through in the next round. Tonight’s performance was alarming.”