Thomas Partey's injury problems since joining Arsenal have taken a toll on the midfielder, according to manager Mikel Arteta.

Partey joined the Gunners for £45million from Atletico Madrid in October and appeared a perfect answer to a problem position in the midfield engine room.

However, a hip issue meant he was restricted to four Premier League starts before the turn of the year and was forced off at half-time during the latter of those.

He returned to start in five consecutive league matches from mid-January onwards but the 27-year-old Ghana international sustained a hamstring injury during last weekend's 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's match against Leeds United at Emirates Stadium, Arteta conceded Partey's latest setback is more serious than first anticipated.

"It is a difficult one, he felt something during the game and we didn't think it was too bad but after the scan looked a little bit worse," he said.

"He won't be available to play against Leeds and we will see how it evolves in the next two days, but it is a muscular issue.

"He was devastated, we were all devastated because we know the importance of Thomas and we haven't had him since we signed him.

"I think he has only played 90 minutes once since he has come back from injury, so it is a big blow for us.

"But he is adapting to the league, he has been very unlucky as well and he is very frustrated because he is a very competitive guy who wants to feel important and be important for the team.

"At the moment the injuries are restricting a lot of game time for him."

Kieran Tierney is also out of the Leeds match, but the Scotland defender at least has light at the end of the tunnel following a knee sprain and is expected back in training next week.

"We have to see how the knee reacts when he starts to get a bit more load," Arteta explained.

"He hasn't had much left but he is very positive at the moment, he is in good spirits and he is desperate to get back in the team and we will see in the next few days.

"The moment he starts to train with the team [we will] see how he is feeling and how he reacts."

Nicolas Pepe was sent off when the sides drew 0-0 at Elland Road earlier in the season but the club-record signing has had a better time of things lately, scoring in each of the recent trips to Southampton and Wolves.

"Again, he can maintain that level now for months, not weeks," Arteta said, although he feels the improvement by the former Lille winger is clear to see.

"I think there has been a click with him, even in his mentality, how he's approaching every training session, the importance of every action in the game and how he can sustain his focus and his determination during games.

"I really like his attitude. What he's done in the last few weeks I think it's been much better.

"He still has a lot of room to improve and grow and he's willing to do that so I'm expecting him to go to the next level very soon."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed he received threats to his family on social media and called for more to be done to protect those in football from abuse.

Footballers being subjected to vile messages online has become an increasingly prominent issue over recent weeks, with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Chelsea's Reece James among those to have been racially abused.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce explained he had received death threats via social media and referee Mike Dean has been stood down from Premier League action this weekend after his family were abused.

Speaking ahead of Arsenal's match against Leeds United at Emirates Stadium, Arteta stated he had been placed in a similarly grim position.

"I prefer not to read it, but we're all exposed to it in this industry," he said, in a week when the Premier League launched its No Room for Racism Action Plan.

"That's why I prefer not to read because it would affect me personally much more [but] in the moment someone wants to touch my family. Because it happened, the club was aware of it and tried to do something about it.

"That's it, we have to live with it. It's not going to stop tomorrow, we know that. But medium, long-term can we do something about it? That's what I'm pushing for.

"It's part of the job. I'm not the only one who is suffering these kind of things. When you're winning, everything is beautiful and you are incredible, you are the best coach.

"When you lose it's completely the opposite. It's not pleasant. When it goes personal against me, I can take it. When the family is involved it's a different story. We are lucky that the club was very supportive when those things happened."

Arsenal have spoken to their players to offer support given the realities of the current climate and Arteta also offered his backing to Dean.

"Of course, we've spoken internally about the players and given them advice to try and protect them as much as possible," he said.

"The incident that occurred a few days ago with Mike Dean was completely unacceptable and we should stand with Mike and the referee community.

"They have an incredibly difficult role at the moment in the league, with a lot of key decisions that affect teams one way or another.

"They try to do their best, they prepare in the best possible way and we all make mistakes. We have to support them."

Asked whether he still went on his own social media platforms, Arteta replied: "No. If we were reading everything written about us probably we'd have to stay in bed a lot of days.

"It's part of it. I think it's great that people have so many platforms and ways to communicate and give their opinions.

"The only thing I'm asking is to be respectful. You don't have to battle anybody or try to hurt anybody, just give your opinion with the best intentions.

"When it's constructive everybody can take criticism. It's part of our job to look at it and think and reflect on it.

"When people do it with the intention of hurting, that's when it becomes a little bit silly in my opinion.

"It's just about finding that balance. I think there are things we can do to protect the industry a little bit better."

UEFA has announced the second leg of Arsenal's Europa League round-of-32 tie against Benfica will be played at Olympiacos' Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis.

The first leg has already been moved to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, also in response to coronavirus restrictions.

William Saliba has cast further doubt on his time at Arsenal by claiming he was judged by manager Mikel Arteta after just two-and-a-half matches before being loaned to Nice.

The 19-year-old joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in July 2019 for a reported £27million (€29.7m) fee and remained with the Ligue 1 side for the 2019-20 season.

He returned to Emirates Stadium ahead of this season but was surprisingly left out of Arsenal's Europa League squad and did not make a single appearance in other competitions.

Saliba departed for Nice on loan last month for the remainder of the campaign and last week admitted to being "hurt" over his lack of playing time with Arsenal.

And the centre-back, who was brought to north London during Unai Emery's time in charge, has now taken another apparent swipe at Arteta.

"It is clear that so much has changed in the last year," Saliba told RMC. "When I saw that the coach changed, a lot changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change. He judged me on two-and-a-half matches. 

"I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn't ready. I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that. 

"When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.

"I am happy now, I want to play for Nice. The idea when you're part of a team is a better feeling for me."

Saliba has impressed during his short time back in France and was last week named Nice's Player of the Month for January.

The France Under-20s international has started seven Ligue 1 games since joining last month, including the full 90 minutes of Sunday's 3-0 win over Angers.

He led the way for Nice in that game for total passes (64), successful passes (58) and touches (82), while no player on the pitch cleared the ball more often (eight times).

Indeed, since making his Nice debut on January 6, only Jose Fonte (439), Steven Nzonzi (472), Sven Botman (487) and Marco Verratti (489) have completed more Ligue 1 passes than Saliba's 437.

Mikel Arteta condemned Arsenal's repeated mistakes after another damaging defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Gunners' seven match unbeaten run in the Premier League came to an end at Wolves in midweek when both David Luiz and Bernd Leno were sent off.

And another loss swiftly followed against Villa after Cedric Soares gifted the only goal of the game to the home side, Ollie Watkins netting a scruffy effort from Bertrand Traore's centre.

Cedric's mistake was the sole error leading to a shot in the entire match, but it was a costly one.

Arsenal had 66.3 per cent of the possession and 14 shots to Villa's 12 yet only troubled the target three times, failing to create a single big chance from which Opta would expect the visitors to score.

Arteta told BBC Sport that Arsenal "controlled every department" but Villa were "better in the boxes".

In his post-match news conference, the Arsenal manager reiterated his displeasure at his team's continued sloppiness - including a league-high five red cards this term.

"Those [top] teams cannot make those mistakes," Arteta said. "Those teams cannot play, in the first 22 games of the season, four or five times with 10 men.

"It doesn't happen. There is not a team in the world that can sustain that.

"Still, if you make an error or concede a goal early, the team has to react; the team reacted and we had more than enough to come back and still win the game.

"If you don't do one [keep goals out], you have to do the other [score goals].

"If you don't do either of them when you have the chances and you are not ruthless enough in the opponents' box, unfortunately you lose the game."

Another defeat left Arsenal nine points off the top four having played a game more.

Arteta added: "It's a big blow. Considering the performances we put in in both games [this week], we got zero points.

"We have to come back. We've done it this season; we have to do it again."

Arteta was visibly frustrated by refereeing decisions as Ezri Konsa avoided a red card for bringing down Bukayo Saka, while Emi Martinez appeared to tug Alexandre Lacazette's shirt in the area.

He refused to discuss the incidents in his news conference, though, telling BBC Sport: "Regardless of what the referee did today, we should win the game comfortably."

Nicolas Pepe is playing his best football since arriving at Arsenal for a club-record fee in 2019 and has been challenged to maintain his form by Mikel Arteta.

Ivory Coast international Pepe struggled to  a regular place in the starting line-up after returning from a three-match Premier League ban for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski in a 0-0 draw at Leeds United in November.

He was restored to the first XI for the FA Cup fourth-round meeting with Southampton after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ruled out for personal reasons and has started delivering the sort of performances that were expected following his £72million arrival from Lille 18 months ago.

Although Arsenal were beaten 1-0 by Southampton, Pepe had five chances created – two more than the rest of his team-mates combined. It was the third time he has supplied that many key passes in a single game in all competitions this season, after producing eight against Rapid Vienna and Molde in the Europa League.

He then scored in a 3-1 win over the Saints in the Premier League, before creating three chances in a 0-0 draw against Manchester United. He also found the back of the net and produced one key pass in an hour on the pitch during the 2-1 loss to Wolves on Tuesday.

Prior to his recent run, Pepe had just two goals and two chances created across the entirety of the Premier League season.

With Aubameyang available again, Arteta urged the winger to keep producing high-quality displays on a consistent basis as Arsenal look to improve from 10th in the Premier League and bridge the nine-point gap to the top four.

"The performance that he puts overall in all the facets of the game, I think it's the best he's played, and his contribution to those aspects is the best he's done," said Arteta ahead of Saturday's meeting with Aston Villa.

"He needs to sustain that. When you have moments in football, when you have to earn the right to play, you cannot lose it.

"In order to do that you have to do the basics right and keep doing what you're doing. If you don't then someone's going to be knocking at your door."

He added: "I don't know how much he wants, but he needs guidance and he needs clarity in what he needs to do.

"Then he needs the discipline on the pitch to do what he needs to do and obviously he needs the freedom in certain moments to express himself as a player, and you cannot restrict that."

Arteta was also encouraged by the performance of Thomas Partey against Wolves, though he would like to see the midfielder provide more of a threat going forward.

"Obviously that's the reason we signed him, because we believed we needed a player like him, to impose himself in games and give us that dominance and that steel that he brings to the game," said Arteta.

"We have to see more of him, more minutes and more games and slowly get partnerships and unity and chemistry around the team. He needs to be one of our leaders.

"He had a shot the other night when he should have passed the ball, so he needs to shoot when it's the right moment to shoot, but he's got that ability to get in the opponent's box as well and run forwards with or without the ball and have that presence.

"At Atletico Madrid he scored a few goals really good goals and that's something he needs to do more."

Granit Xhaka says Arsenal are "bound for glory" under Mikel Arteta and can even achieve something significant this season.

Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December 2019 and finished the season as an FA Cup winner, though the Gunners only finished eighth in the Premier League.

Prior to a 2-1 loss to Wolves on Tuesday, which they finished with nine men after red cards for David Luiz and Bernd Leno, Arsenal had gone seven Premier League games unbeaten.

That came after a run of seven top-flight matches without a win, but Xhaka is confident Arteta has them on the path to success.

"We had the run without wins but even during that time, I think we have played without any self-doubt," Xhaka told The Guardian.

"Our mistakes, like the red cards – my own included [against Burnley in December] – have been the fault of each of us rather than one with the plan.

"As a collective, we've been functioning well and we can do something special, including this season. We are playing a very tight, compact game of late and we are also gleaning a lot of respect from the other big teams we are playing. I think we are bound for glory."

Arteta honed his craft as a coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Xhaka has been impressed by the amount of attention the Gunners boss pays to preparation.

"Mikel is an unbelievably good coach who puts a huge amount of detail into his work," said Xhaka.

"We have individual discussions for every match, a plan about what is expected for that game. He even hands out an individual match plan to each player. We are always very well prepared for our opponents.

"The individual work he does with every player – that's the trick. And after the match, there is a very detailed analysis of what’s been done. Who was where.

"As far as the opponents go, we work on our offensive line, where every person should stand and this detail is a huge advantage for me. Also, when you're without the ball, it gives you a great advantage for the anticipation of the opponents' moves."

Xhaka has managed to resurrect his Arsenal career, having been on the brink of leaving for Hertha Berlin after turning on booing fans when he was substituted during a Premier League game against Crystal Palace. The Switzerland international was dropped from the team and stripped of the captaincy following the incident.

"I took a big knock, I was quite wounded by the experience," said Xhaka.

"Hertha made contact, I discussed it with Arsenal and there were only a few details to complete for me to make that move. However, then Mikel arrived and we spoke. He wanted to hear my side of the story.

"I have to say it was the first time I had met him; I had no prior knowledge of him as a man or a coach. But we had a really great one-to-one chat – very open, very positive, very long. He looked deep into me, into my thinking, and he persuaded me that we should go on together, stick with each other on this Arsenal project. I am happy that I made the decision."

Arsenal have failed in their attempt to overturn the red card David Luiz received in Tuesday's 2-1 Premier League defeat against Wolves.

The veteran centre-back was dismissed shortly before the break at Molineux with the VAR upholding the decision of referee Craig Pawson, who judged David Luiz had made contact with the heel of Willian Jose.

Ruben Neves converted the resulting spot-kick to cancel out Nicolas Pepe's opener and Joao Moutinho scored the winner in a match the Gunners finished with nine men after goalkeeper Bernd Leno also saw red.

Head coach Mikel Arteta confirmed Arsenal had launched an appeal against the decision but the Football Association (FA) has dismissed the claim, meaning David Luiz will miss out against Aston Villa on Saturday.

An Arsenal statement read: "The Football Association have confirmed to us that the red card given to David Luiz on Tuesday against Wolverhampton Wanderers will stand.

"We have worked really hard to overturn David Luiz's red card. We presented our case to the FA but are disappointed that our appeal has been unsuccessful.

"We accept the FA's decision and continue our preparations for Saturday's match against Aston Villa."

Southampton enjoyed a slither of good news from their 9-0 embarrassment at Manchester United, though, after the FA did overturn a red card awarded to Jan Bednarek.

The defender was harshly dismissed by referee Mike Dean for a last-man foul on Anthony Martial with the score already at 6-0.

Following the game, Saints dismissed reports they had officially requested Dean and fourth official Lee Mason no longer be involved in their matches.

Bednarek, though, is free to feature when Southampton aim to rebound at Newcastle United this weekend.

A club statement read: "Southampton defender Jan Bednarek will be available for Saturday's trip to Newcastle, after the club successfully appealed his dismissal in Tuesday's match against Manchester United.

"Bednarek was shown a straight red card during the second half at Old Trafford, having been judged to have denied Anthony Martial an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

"The club immediately appealed the decision, and a review by an independent regulatory commission at the Football Association has now led to the card being rescinded."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has warned Alex Runarsson must learn to cope with the pressure of playing for the Gunners after a shaky start as he prepares to be the likely replacement for the suspended Bernd Leno.

Germany international Leno was sent off late on in Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Wolves, thus ruling him out for Saturday's trip to Aston Villa.

Runarsson was the back-up on the bench and played the latter stages of the game, though he did little to endear himself to Gunners fans as he looked nervous when haplessly booting the ball out of play for a corner shortly after coming on.

The Icelandic keeper was signed from Dijon in pre-season to replace the departed Emiliano Martinez, but errors in Europa League games against Rapid Vienna and Molde left fans questioning his acquisition.

Arsenal reportedly tried to offload him again in January and they brought in Mat Ryan on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion to cover for Leno.

But with Ryan still yet to train, Runarsson looks a likely choice between the posts at the weekend, and Arteta is urging him to prove the doubters wrong.

"[Ryan] has not been available to train yet, and Alex is available so we will have the choice between him and Alex to be made," Arteta said on Thursday. "If Mat is able to train and they are both fit, we have a decision to make; if Mat is not fit then Alex will go on.

"Alex knew his role before we signed him, and obviously knows his role after we signed him. We had a plan on the goalkeeper position, and we could not execute [it] the way we wanted, but Alex's role was very clear around the squad.

"He needs to earn his opportunity, needs to earn his place, depending on his performance. He needs to push for that."

Arteta believes criticism of Runarsson is the reality of playing for a club the size of Arsenal and that he must get used to it if he is to have a long-term future there.

"This is what you face when you play for a big club," Arteta continued. "People expect when you go out there to give your best and perform at the top level, and if you don't you get that criticism.

"You know that before you join the club, you know that you are exposed all the time to critics.

"As well, if you do really well everyone is going to be praising you more than at any other club. You have to be able to handle that pressure if you want to play here.

"He works really hard. He's fitted really well around the dressing room, he's a really nice boy, really humble. He needs to be away from all the comments and focus on his work, focus on improving."

Arsenal have lodged an appeal against the red card shown to David Luiz in Tuesday's loss to Wolves, Mikel Arteta has confirmed.

The defender was shown a straight red card after making minimal contact with Willian Jose's heel on the stroke of half-time and VAR upheld the decision made by refereee Craig Pawson.

Ruben Neves converted the resulting penalty to cancel out Nicolas Pepe's opener and Joao Moutinho secured the three points for Wolves, as Arsenal finished with nine men after Bernd Leno was dismissed for inexplicably handling outside his area.

Arteta did not feel David Luiz could be solely blamed for leaving his team-mates a player short and hoped to hear back on an appeal against the sending off on Thursday.

"I am very hopeful and that's why we put the appeal on, we went through the images and we think that the red card should be overruled, that's why we put in the appeal," Arteta said ahead of Saturday's meeting with Aston Villa.

"I don't know how long it will take but hopefully today we will have more information.

"We know the law. For me, it's more about the decision, and what happens in that instance. There was a very similar incident, even though David is behind him and against Manchester United he was on the side of the player, it completely changes the angle and how much it affects the players ability to finish the action, but still a similar situation. I think they will look at it.

"You look at the two images we can have a long, long debate here. Just to put the finger on David, in my opinion, is not fair."

Arsenal have received a Premier League-high of five red cards this season but Arteta is not concerned by a potential lack of discipline in his squad.

The only dismissals that truly bothered him were the avoidable ones dished out to Pepe at Leeds United and Granit Xhaka against Burnley, where incidents away from the ball ended their outings early.  

"When I was worried about the discipline it was on two occasions, with Nico and with Granit. We should avoid that," said Arteta.

"There are other ones where in a split second you have to make a decision, the referee has to make a decision as well, and there is much less to control from our side.

"What is clear is when you have five red cards in this period you will lose a lot of points. If we had some of those points we would be in a completely different position on the table.

"No team with five red cards is on top of the table, it doesn't happen."

Mikel Arteta questioned the decision to send off David Luiz after the defender was one of two Arsenal players to be dismissed in a 2-1 defeat at Wolves.

Arsenal appeared set to go in at half-time deservedly ahead following Nicolas Pepe's opener, only for David Luiz to concede a penalty following a challenge on Willian Jose.

The Brazilian centre-back was shown a red card by referee Craig Pawson following a VAR check, though Arteta insisted he could not see any contact after studying replays of the incident.

Ruben Neves converted from the spot before Joao Moutinho's long-range strike put the hosts ahead shortly after the break, with any hopes of a fightback disappearing for Arsenal when goalkeeper Bernd Leno was given his marching orders for handling the ball outside the area.

For Arteta, though, it was the David Luiz call that left him frustrated, particularly after his side had played so well up until that crucial moment in the contest.

"First of all, I have to say that I'm proud of my team, the way we played and the way we dominated the first half," Arteta told the media.

"We should have been 3-0 or 4-0 up. We didn't do that, though, and we put ourselves in a really difficult position by conceding the goal and going a man down. 

"I have seen the replay 10 times from five different angles and I cannot see any contact. I would like to see if VAR has a different angle. I'm expecting to see something and I'm not seeing anything. 

"We were really animated at half-time because we really wanted to win the game. The boys were so convinced to go out there and have a real go. 

"We didn't concede any chances but Moutinho scores a worldie and it's 2-1. Then, when Bernd comes out and hits the ball with his hand, we're down to nine men and almost impossible to win the game."

Since making his league debut for Arsenal in August 2019, David Luiz has picked up three red cards and conceded six penalties, more than any other player in the competition in both categories.

Arteta - who has seen his team shown nine Premier League red cards since taking charge, six more than any other top-flight team - admitted the result was tough to take.

"The way we lost the game really hurts. It's painful," he said. 

"I have to take the positives as well, which is the way we played against this team that is very difficult to attack, the amount of chances we created. But we leave the ground and have zero points and have lost two important players. 

"It's hard enough to win football games in this league. There's nothing we can change. It was a big decision, if they got it right and can justify they got it right, I'll put my hand up and apologise. 

"The only thing I'm saying is that I’m sitting here and I cannot see any contact. That's really, really frustrating, because it's a big, big moment in the game."

Asked if Arsenal may issue an appeal against the red card for David Luiz, Arteta replied: "Where I’m standing now, I'd say yes – let's go straight away. But I don't know, we will have to speak to the legal team at the club and decide if it is the best thing."

Runar Alex Runarsson came on to take over from Leno in goal, with recent recruit Mat Ryan ruled out with a muscle issue. Arteta revealed he is hopeful the Australia international can be fit in time for Saturday's trip to Aston Villa.

Mikel Arteta joked he has spoken to Arsenal's technical director Edu more than anyone else in the past year, including his wife.

Arteta returned to the Gunners to replace Unai Emery in December 2019 and a busy rebuilding of the first-team squad coupled with the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic have led to a busy time for the Spaniard and fellow ex-Arsenal midfielder Edu.

With Monday representing the end of the transfer window, the two are set to be in contact a lot on a typically hectic day.

Arteta's close relationship with Edu is something he cherishes, and is clearly not lost on his spouse.

"Probably in the last year or so I spoke probably to Edu more or less more than anybody else in my life!" Arteta said ahead of Arsenal's Premier League clash at Wolves on Tuesday.

"That's for sure what my wife says because of the things we have to go through with coronavirus as well, [and] the transfers. 

"Luckily we have a great relationship, a great understanding and we support each other in a great way. It's lucky you have to talk all the time with someone around the day that the relationship is strong."

Despite the challenges on the club's finances caused by the global health pandemic, Arsenal have still managed some shrewd business including bringing in Thomas Partey and Gabriel during the previous window.

With Martin Odegaard having also arrived on loan from Real Madrid last week, Arteta praised the work done by Edu behind the scenes.

"Well, I think he's doing a great job and the club since I joined," he added.

"The clarity he showed when they tried to convince me to join the club and stick to the plan we have, the way he's going about it I'm really impressed with him."

Arteta still has issues down the left-hand side ahead of the visit to Molineux, with the status of full-back Kieran Tierney (leg) and Bukayo Saka (hip), both of whom missed Sunday's goalless draw with Manchester United, remaining unclear.

"We don't know yet, today we have a training session, they haven't been able to train yet with us," Arteta said. 

"I think it will be difficult for them but we will see the last minute how they're feeling."

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still waiting to hear if he can play. The Gabon striker was unable to feature against the Red Devils as he follows protocol rules after visiting his ill mother last week.

"There are still some things to clear up, maybe yes maybe not, we're still doing some paperwork at the moment," Arteta said when asked if Aubameyang, who also missed the win over Southampton, can face Wolves.

Arsenal defender William Saliba admits he was "hurt" after not being given first-team opportunities following his move from Saint-Etienne. 

The 19-year-old arrived at the Emirates Stadium in July 2019 for a reported £27million (€29.7m) fee and was loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 campaign.

He returned to the Gunners ahead of this season and was expected to become part of manager Mikel Arteta's plans after a possible second loan back to Saint-Etienne failed to materialise in October.

However, the France youth international did not make a senior appearance for the Premier League club and was loaned to Nice earlier this month.

Saliba made his fifth appearance for the Ligue 1 outfit in Sunday's 1-0 defeat to his former club Saint-Etienne. 

Despite the result he had an impact at the heart of the backline, making more successful passes (58) and clearances (five) than any other Nice player.

He also gained possession seven times, the joint second-highest of any player on the pitch.

Saliba has opened up on his frustration with life at Arsenal and feels strongly he should have been given a chance to impress in the first team.

"I really, really, really didn't think that I would be transferred for almost €30m," he told TF1.

"To think that I would arrive, where people were expecting a lot from me, the fans were excited about me and you find yourself in the reserves, playing zero – nothing in the Europa League or the Premier League.

"I was in the squad once in the EFL Cup. It hurt me, it affected me. I don't think I left too early. When you feel ready you have to go. These things happen. I believe in myself."

While Saliba is enjoying playing first-team football again at Nice, he insists he is not thinking about where he will be next season.

"I have learned now that it is better not to look too far in the future," he added. "I am focused on just these six months to try to give absolutely everything and for the rest we will see.

"For me, the best decision was to join Nice because there is a good project, a good team, a good level of ambition and they like to play in a certain way.

"It feels good to play and to have consistent game time. I am young, I am 19, and it is by playing matches like this that you improve.

"You see what mistakes you make and you correct them for the next match."

Mikel Arteta confirmed "conversations" are occurring with Arsenal's hierarchy as the Gunners boss aims to finalise some last-minute business in the transfer window.

Martin Odegaard has already arrived on loan from Real Madrid and Norwich City's versatile forward Emiliano Buendia reportedly remains a target.

Outgoings are also a distinct possibility, with Arteta having trimmed the wage bill by offloading big earners Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, while Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba have departed on loan.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Shkodran Mustafi may also move, at least temporarily, to get more minutes and Arteta provided an update following the Gunners' goalless draw with Manchester United on Saturday.

"Well, there are some conversations at the moment going on," Arteta said.

"I spoke with all the players about their own situation because they are all aware of the minutes that they're playing and they want to improve their situation.

"I'm willing to help them, the club is willing to help them and we will try to find a solution at the end, but I don't know whether it will be the case or not."

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was missing against United at Emirates Stadium as he continues to quarantine after visiting his ill mother.

Arteta was unable to clarify if that was due to restrictions when returning from certain countries or because he had been exposed to coronavirus.

"We are following the rules and the protocols right now and the protocols say that he cannot be involved at the moment," he added.

"We have to respect that and the doctor is managing the situation. It's because he had a family issue that he had to attend to and these are the consequences of that."

David Luiz celebrated clearing a Bruno Fernandes free-kick with a couple of fist pumps on the stroke of half-time, a reaction encouraged by Arteta.

"Yes, because you have to put your body on the line and when you have to defend your own box, you have to be ruthless and you have to be even more aggressive when you attack the opponents' box because it makes a huge impact on the result," he said.

"I think everybody is defending in those situations with their lives, which is what I asked them to do.

"When that's the case, obviously you're harder to beat and you get the amount of clean sheets we're getting at the moment."

Manchester United set a new club record of 18 away Premier League games unbeaten as they held on for a 0-0 draw at depleted Arsenal on Saturday.

United failed to bounce back from the shock midweek home loss to Sheffield United with a victory, but at least preserved their fine run on the road, breaking a record set by Alex Ferguson's treble winners.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men had the better of the first half but failed to make the most of being in the ascendancy and Arsenal improved significantly after the break.

Alexandre Lacazette went closest for the Gunners when he struck the crossbar with a free-kick and David de Gea denied Emile Smith Rowe, with second-placed United ultimately having to settle for a point against an Arsenal side missing a host of first-team regulars.

Arsenal initially posed the greater threat but the visitors soon began to win the midfield battle, the better chances falling United's way as a result.

Fred's controlled volley in the 20th minute forced Bernd Leno to desperately hurl himself across his line to tip wide, before Aaron Wan-Bissaka headed wide from a brilliant position after meeting Luke Shaw's cross.

Bruno Fernandes then blasted off target after beating David Luiz in the box, and although United subsequently lost Scott McTominay to an apparent stomach issue, they remained in control.

Another Shaw cross fell kindly for Marcus Rashford just before the interval, but the striker did not react quickly enough and Arsenal crowded him out before he could pull the trigger.

Willian was introduced for Gabriel Martinelli at half-time and nearly made an immediate impact, only for Wan-Bissaka to make a crucial block to deny him.

An even better opportunity fell to Edinson Cavani soon after, the Uruguayan somehow shooting wide from close range after Shaw's low delivery, that was a rare moment of second-half respite for United as Arsenal started to dominate.

A Lacazette free-kick just past the hour caused panic for United as it crashed against the crossbar, and De Gea had to be alert soon after to save a stinging Smith Rowe attempt.

Cavani went agonisingly close again late on with an acrobatic attempt and that proved to be the final clear-cut chance in a match devoid of clinical finishing.

Edinson Cavani was given the nod ahead of Anthony Martial for Manchester United's trip to Arsenal, who included new signing Martin Odegaard among their substitutes but were without Bukayo Saka.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men travelled to Emirates Stadium on the back of a shock 2-1 home defeat to struggling Sheffield United in midweek, as they passed up the opportunity to return to the Premier League's summit.

Martial was one of two United players who suffered abhorrent racist abuse on social media after that match, with Axel Tuanzebe the other.

Both took places on the bench this time around, with Cavani chosen ahead of the Frenchman in attack.

Arsenal confirmed earlier on Saturday that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was still absent for personal reasons, while Kieran Tierney remained sidelined with a calf injury.

Cedric Soares continued to deputise at left-back, while Gabriel Martinelli lined up on the left with the in-form Bukayo Saka left out as a precaution due to a sore hip.

Odegaard had a chance to make his Arsenal debut from the bench – the 22-year-old Norwegian having joined the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid this week.

United were aiming to set a new club record of 18 away Premier League matches unbeaten on Saturday, with their last loss on the road coming over a year ago.

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