Mikel Arteta tells Arsenal to turn tables on football’s wind-up merchants

Mikel Arteta claims Arsenal need to turn the tables on football’s wind-up merchants.

The Gunners boss claims his side are targeted every week by teams trying to get under their skin and need to start fighting fire with fire.

The last time the Gunners faced Leeds they had Nicolas Pepe sent off for a headbutt after a running battle with Ezgjan Alioski.

And team-mate Patrick Bamford revealed recently that Alisoki can’t wait to face Pepe again ahead of Sunday’s rematch.

Granit Xhaka was also sent off against Burnley in December for retaliation, one of NINE red cards Arsenal have received under Arteta.

The Arsenal boss said: “This happens every week. Every opponent has a competitive edge, using every weapon they have to try destabilise you.

“We have to know that and try to do the same with the opponent. It is a game we play every week. We have got red cards in many different ways.

“We had two disciplinaries with Nico and Granit and the rest were just random actions throughout the game.”

Arsenal will face Leeds without £45m man Thomas Partey, who is sidelined again with a thigh strain he suffered in Saturday’s defeat to Aston Villa.

The injury-prone former Atletico Madrid man has only managed to last 90 minutes in the league three times since joining the club.

But Arteta said: “Hopefully we can still see Thomas back and playing at the level he can do.

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  • “We didn’t think it was too bad but after the scan it looked a little bit worse. He was devastated, we were all devastated. It’s a big blow for us.

    “We have to protect him, make sure he is fit and ready to come back as soon as possible but knowing we need the player long term as well.

    “He knows how much he cost and that adds a bit of pressure. When you are not able to play you want to hurry up. That creates some anxiety.”

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