Granit Xhaka ‘overstepped the line’ with ‘unacceptable’ red card, admits Mikel Arteta… but Arsenal boss insists there’s no need to panic after seventh defeat in 12 Premier League games
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta described Granit Xhaka’s behaviour as ‘unacceptable’ and said the experienced Swiss midfielder overstepped the line as his red card proved decisive in Sunday night’s defeat to Burnley.
The big flashpoint of the game came just before the hour mark when a skirmish broke out between both sets of players after a foul on Burnley winger Dwight McNeil.
VAR replays showed Xhaka had grabbed Burnley midfielder Ashley Westwood by the throat in the melee that followed the foul. A yellow was initially awarded by referee Graham Scott before he went over to the pitchside monitor and overturned for a red.
Granit Xhaka received a red card after grabbing the throat of Burnley’s Ashley Westwood
Asked for his thoughts on Xhaka’s decision-making, a downbeat Arteta said: ‘Absolutely (unacceptable). He’s made a mistake, the dominance we had at that point… it’s a game we clearly had to win but down to 10 men you give the opponent a chance.
‘Yes it is unacceptable to do that action but it is because they are so willing to do more, fight more, and on this occasion Granit overstepped the line. We cannot make that mistake because it’s the wrong approach for us.’
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was keen to play down the incident following a very impressive away win and focus on his own side but did reveal he had spoken to his players about confrontations.
The big flashpoint came just before the hour mark on Sunday when a skirmish broke out
VAR replays showed Xhaka had grabbed Burnley midfielder Ashley Westwood by the throat
‘I ask them not to respond to referees, to not get involved,’ he said.
‘I do my fair share at times but I say to them, “just play hard, stay focused and concentrate on the game”.’
Defeat was Arsenal’s fourth in a row in the league at the Emirates Stadium and while victory lifts Burnley out of the relegation zone, Dyche’s side also closed the gap on 15th-placed Arsenal to four points.
Xhaka kicks out after being shown the red card for violent conduct during Burnley defeat
But Arteta, the youngest boss in the Premier League, who Dyche insisted ‘will find his own way soon’, insists there is no cause for panic inside the dressing room.
‘I wouldn’t say it’s panic,’ he said. ‘I can see in training the way they try and the energy they put in and it was the same tonight.
‘I can see leaders but again we lost the game. We gave the opponent the chance and football is all about winning games.’
Westwood was again involved in the decisive play as his corner in the 73rd minute was flicked into his own net by a helpless Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists there’s no need to panic after seventh defeat in games
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