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.

Arsenal and Manchester United are unlikely to ever revisit the conflict-ridden "pizzagate" days due to the nature of modern football, says Mikel Arteta.

United travel to Emirates Stadium on Saturday aiming to recover form a shock loss to bottom club Sheffield United that dealt a blow to their Premier League title ambitions.

Either side of the turn of the century, Arsenal and United were typically the top two clubs in England and that battle for supremacy led to some feisty affairs.

From Roy Keane threatening Patrick Vieira pre-match in the Highbury tunnel to Cesc Fabregas hurling a slice of pizza in Alex Ferguson's direction near the Old Trafford dressing rooms, it was a rivalry not confined to more traditional combat on the field.

Although he feels the competitive spirit remains, Arteta knows those urges must be channelled in different ways in the modern game.

"I think it has calmed down, not only with the Arsenal-Manchester United fixture but in general," he said when asked whether compatriot Fabregas had regaled him with tales of his unsavoury use of the savoury buffet.

"You see the way the derbies used to be played, and it’s not the same right now. The game is evolving. We are educating players in a different way as well.

"Things that were allowed before, now they are for sure not allowed, with VAR even less. I think it’s a different game to that time.

"You are more controlled and policed, so you know that you are not going to get away with certain things that you got used to before. It’s the way the game is evolving. It’s a natural thing."

Arsenal are on a run of five wins in six unbeaten Premier League games, a record their head coach is keen for them to extend in a fixture that still captures the imagination.

"You need that passion to defend your position and to show how much you want to win. I think that’s part of a winning mentality in a team, that’s for sure," he said.

"Before there were those two teams that were the candidates to win the league, now there are six or seven teams every season that are capable of doing that.

"That’s where the league has gone, and that’s the difference from 10 years ago and now in this league."

Mikel Arteta is adamant Martin Odegaard's arrival does not have to negatively impact Emile Smith Rowe's form, with the Arsenal manager convinced they can play together.

Arsenal completed the loan signing of Odegaard from Real Madrid on Wednesday, the Norwegian adding creativity to a squad that had not included Mesut Ozil at all this season prior to his move to Fenerbahce.

The 22-year-old Odegaard had struggled at Real Madrid this term, making just three LaLiga starts for Zinedine Zidane after returning from an impressive temporary spell at Real Sociedad.

But there is great hope that he could make a real impact for the Gunners if he is able to rediscover the form he displayed with La Real, for whom he created a team-high 62 chances and provided six assists in 2019-20.

Despite some expressing doubts over his compatibility with Smith Rowe, Arteta believes the two can play together, while Odegaard's signing will alleviate some of the creative burden.

"Of course, they can play together, and it is not about pushing somebody else [out of the team]," Arteta told reporters ahead of Saturday's clash with Manchester United.

"Emile has earned his right to play the way he is performing - and Martin has to earn that.

"Emile cannot play every single game, as we knew the other day. For example, in the FA Cup he was injured, he could not play.

"The other day [against Southampton on Tuesday], he could only play certain minutes because he was struggling for the last minutes.

"It has been a massive step for him from what he was doing three, four months ago and what he is doing right now. We need options."

DOUBLE THREAT

Smith Rowe has enjoyed a sudden rise to prominence with the Gunners – before Christmas he was exclusively used in cup competitions, but he has started six Premier League matches in a row since.

The first of those was the 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, a result that ended a run of seven games without a league victory and began to ease the pressure on Arteta. The Gunners are unbeaten with Smith Rowe in the side in the league this season.

His three assists from open play across the same period is more than anyone else has managed in the Premier League, so concern for Smith Rowe's momentum was an understanding by-product of the initial links to Odegaard.

But, Opta data lends credence to Arteta's assessment they can play together.

 

None of Smith Rowe's key passes or assists have come from the central third of the attacking half, with all of them coming from wider positions.

While Odegaard operated predominantly from the right at Real Sociedad last term, the highest proportion (31.2 per cent) of his assists and key passes came from the central zone directly outside the penalty area.

 

Creativity in this zone has been a weak point of Arsenal's this season, with most of their threat coming down the left – Odegaard's arrival might just offer the Gunners a little more balance.

Martin Odegaard was always fighting a "lost battle" with comparisons to Lionel Messi but has the characteristics needed to flourish at Arsenal, says Mikel Arteta. 

The Gunners completed a deal to take Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid until the end of the season on Wednesday, handing the attacking midfielder the number 11 shirt that was worn by Mesut Ozil when he joined the club. 

Odegaard was signed by Los Blancos from Stromsgodset as a prodigious teenager and has had loan spells in the Eredivisie with Heerenveen and Vitesse before impressing in a temporary stint with Real Sociedad last term. 

Madrid opted to recall him for the 2020-21 campaign, though the 22-year-old struggled to nail down a regular spot in Zinedine Zidane's team. 

Arteta is excited by Odegaard's qualities but did urge caution, saying comparisons to Barcelona great Messi are unhelpful. 

"I wouldn't even get close to that name you just mentioned [Messi] because it's a lost battle in my opinion. Martin is Martin," Arteta said when previewing Saturday's clash with Manchester United. 

"In the last few seasons he's progressed and developed in the right way. I follow him very closely because he played for Real Sociedad which is my hometown and I know him really well. 

"He's such a talent. He needs the right environment, a little bit of time, but he's got the qualities to be a success for us. He's a specialist to playing in the pockets, to be in the number eight, number 10 positions. 

"He can play on the sides, a really creative player, really comfortable on the ball in tight spaces, the capacity to create chances, to score goals. 

"Something he has improved a lot is his work rate without the ball as well. It's another option to give us more creativity in the final third."

Last season, Odegaard topped Sociedad's squad for chances created in LaLiga, crafting 62 opportunities in total as he provided six assists from 31 appearances. He also boasted an impressive passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent. 

This term he has been afforded just three LaLiga starts by Zidane, albeit Arteta made clear several factors will determine whether a permanent deal will be struck. 

"He has certainly all the qualities and characteristics that we are looking for," he added. 

"Then it would be down to two things – first of all, how well he adapts here and how much of an impact he can have in our team, and second, what Real Madrid and the player thinks about it because he's owned by Real Madrid and the player has a big say on that. 

"I just wanted to give him a clear picture of who we are as a club, what we are trying to do, what we expect from him, just try to transmit the passion and excitement that we had to bring him in. 

"I wanted to show him the project, how he fits and just try to persuade him that this is the right place for him and try to make things work." 

Arsenal are on a six-match unbeaten run in the Premier League to improve their previously precarious top-flight standing to ninth. 

They welcome a Manchester United side who saw their own 13-match unbeaten league run surprisingly ended by rock-bottom Sheffield United on Wednesday. 

"It's not a surprise because to beat any team in this league is extremely difficult and it's not taken for granted," Arteta said when asked about that game.  

"Sheffield United are a really good threat and you see that. They've lost games they didn't deserve to lose." 

Arsenal were the last side to beat United in the league before the Blades' unlikely triumph, while they have not lost to the Red Devils since an FA Cup defeat in January 2019. 

Still, Arteta says there is nothing to be gleaned from a decent recent record against United. 

"I think every game is completely different, they have the capacity and the quality to beat any side in the world, we know we’re going to have to be at our best," he said. 

"The games are huge, we need to be better than what we were on Tuesday [a 3-1 win at Southampton] to beat them. 

"They've been in top form. They've been top of the table playing really well. We know they are a real threat. We have to be at our best to beat them on Saturday."

Martin Odegaard was always fighting a "lost battle" with comparisons to Lionel Messi but has the characteristics needed to flourish at Arsenal, says Mikel Arteta. 

The Gunners completed a deal to take Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid until the end of the season on Wednesday, handing the attacking midfielder the number 11 shirt that was worn by Mesut Ozil when he joined the club. 

Odegaard was signed by Los Blancos from Stromsgodset as a prodigious teenager and has had loan spells in the Eredivisie with Heerenveen and Vitesse before impressing in a temporary stint with Real Sociedad last term. 

Madrid opted to recall him for the 2020-21 campaign, though the 22-year-old struggled to nail down a regular spot in Zinedine Zidane's team. 

Arteta is excited by Odegaard's qualities but did urge caution, saying comparisons to Barcelona great Messi are unhelpful. 

"I wouldn't even get close to that name you just mentioned [Messi] because it's a lost battle in my opinion. Martin is Martin," Arteta said when previewing Saturday's clash with Manchester United. 

"In the last few seasons he's progressed and developed in the right way. I follow him very closely because he played for Real Sociedad which is my hometown and I know him really well. 

"He's such a talent. He needs the right environment, a little bit of time, but he's got the qualities to be a success for us. He's a specialist to playing in the pockets, to be in the number eight, number 10 positions. 

"He can play on the sides, a really creative player, really comfortable on the ball in tight spaces, the capacity to create chances, to score goals. 

"Something he has improved a lot is his work rate without the ball as well. It's another option to give us more creativity in the final third."

Last season, Odegaard topped Sociedad's squad for chances created in LaLiga, crafting 62 opportunities in total as he provided six assists from 31 appearances. He also boasted an impressive passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent. 

This term he has been afforded just three LaLiga starts by Zidane, albeit Arteta made clear several factors will determine whether a permanent deal will be struck. 

"He has certainly all the qualities and characteristics that we are looking for," he added. 

"Then it would be down to two things – first of all, how well he adapts here and how much of an impact he can have in our team, and second, what Real Madrid and the player thinks about it because he's owned by Real Madrid and the player has a big say on that. 

"I just wanted to give him a clear picture of who we are as a club, what we are trying to do, what we expect from him, just try to transmit the passion and excitement that we had to bring him in. 

"I wanted to show him the project, how he fits and just try to persuade him that this is the right place for him and try to make things work." 

Arsenal are on a six-match unbeaten run in the Premier League to improve their previously precarious top-flight standing to ninth. 

They welcome a Manchester United side who saw their own 13-match unbeaten league run surprisingly ended by rock-bottom Sheffield United on Wednesday. 

"It's not a surprise because to beat any team in this league is extremely difficult and it's not taken for granted," Arteta said when asked about that game.  

"Sheffield United are a really good threat and you see that. They've lost games they didn't deserve to lose." 

Arsenal were the last side to beat United in the league before the Blades' unlikely triumph, while they have not lost to the Red Devils since an FA Cup defeat in January 2019. 

Still, Arteta says there is nothing to be gleaned from a decent recent record against United. 

"I think every game is completely different, they have the capacity and the quality to beat any side in the world, we know we’re going to have to be at our best," he said. 

"The games are huge, we need to be better than what we were on Tuesday [a 3-1 win at Southampton] to beat them. 

"They've been in top form. They've been top of the table playing really well. We know they are a real threat. We have to be at our best to beat them on Saturday."

Mikel Arteta has offered no guarantee that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be available for Arsenal in Saturday's big clash with Manchester United.

The striker and club captain left the squad just hours ahead of last weekend's FA Cup match at Southampton, because of personal reasons.

Aubameyang specified on Wednesday that his mother had been experiencing "health issues" and stressed he "had to be with her".

He said he was keen to be back on Arsenal duty, but how soon that happens could hinge on a range of issues.

Arsenal manager Arteta did not give a firm answer one way or the other when asked whether Aubameyang had travelled abroad to be with his mother.

If he did head overseas, that could bring quarantining into the equation and mean he may have to wait a while before returning to action.

Looking at the weekend prospects for the Gabon international, Arteta said: "I don't know. I spoke with him yesterday, things are looking better at the moment, but we're going to have to wait and see.

"He's our captain and one of the most important players. We are doing everything we can to have him back as quick as possible but understand he's been through difficult days, that he has to support his family and we are here to support him as well with the time that he needed to get that sorted."

When asked if Aubameyang had left the UK to be with his mother, Arteta said: "He had to support his family and he had to be with them."

Pressed on the possibility of quarantine, he replied: "I don't know about what happened."

Arsenal lost in the cup to Southampton but took swift revenge by winning 3-1 in the Premier League at St Mary's on Tuesday, to continue their recent revival in the competition.

Arteta had dedicated that victory to Aubameyang on behalf of the squad and explained it was important to support the 31-year-old at all times.

"That's what we always talk about and what we expect to do for each other," said the Arsenal boss. "When someone is having difficulties, that we understand for him, protect him, give him our love, because it's what is needed."

Aubameyang scored twice in his last Premier League appearance, the 3-0 win over Newcastle United on January 18, after netting just three in his previous 16 games in the competition.

In the Newcastle game, Aubameyang matched his season's Premier League highs for shots at goal (five) and touches in the opposition box (nine).

Having also scored against Newcastle in the FA Cup third round earlier in January, it suggested his best form may be coming back.

Only once last season did Aubameyang have more goal attempts in a game (seven against Brighton and Hove Albion on June 20), while he only had more touches in Arsenal's rivals' box twice (in December 2019 games against Norwich City and Bournemouth).

Dani Ceballos and Pablo Mari are expected back in training with Arsenal in the coming days after short injury lay-offs, Arteta said.

He said Arsenal would "have to see" how Kieran Tierney is, although video that appeared to show the left-back in training this week may suggest he could face United this weekend.

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thanked fans for their support after explaining he had missed recent matches after his mother took ill.

The forward sat out consecutive trips to Southampton - a 1-0 FA Cup defeat and a 3-1 Premier League win - with what the club described as "personal issues".

Manager Mikel Arteta had admitted he was unsure when the Gabon international would be able to return, with the Gunners now preparing for league games against Manchester United and Wolves over the next six days.

Aubameyang suggested he could be back soon as he confirmed his mother was recovering.

"Thank you so much for all the messages and calls over the last few days," he wrote on social media on Wednesday.

"My mother is going through some health issues and I had to be there for her. She's already much better now and I will be back home tonight. I'm more than grateful to the doctors and nurses helping her get through this.

"And of course, thanks to my Arsenal fam for the love yesterday! I'm more determined than ever to keep our momentum going!

"Thank you all again – I really am beyond blessed to receive this level of support and love from all of you and I can't wait to be back."

Team-mates Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette dedicated goals in Tuesday's win at Southampton to Aubameyang, who has scored five times in 17 league games this season.

The Gunners' win moved them into eighth place in the league, five points behind West Ham in fourth, although many of the surrounding sides in the table have games in hand.

Martin Odegaard's Real Madrid career was being set up to fail right from the start, when he joined the club just over a month after his 16th birthday back in January 2015.

The fact he remains their player six years on is testament to the Norwegian's talent, persistence and level-headed attitude, as his first couple of years at the club seemingly had people willing him to fade into obscurity.

From unnecessary speculation relating to his wages and exaggerated suggestions that his presence threatened the future of Madrid's academy, to murmurings that his arrival upset the harmony of Real Madrid Castilla's squad – life wasn't made easy for him early on.

For the most part he has managed to keep his career on track and has shown why he was so highly rated as a 15-year-old bursting on to the scene at Stromsgodset, impressing in a series of loan spells, but Odegaard now has another challenge in front of him.

He joins Arsenal on loan for the rest of the season in a move that will surely shape the next major step he takes in his career, whether that is kicking on at Real Madrid or moving elsewhere permanently.

While first-team football has been difficult to come by at Madrid this term, it's easy to see why Arsenal made their move for the attacking midfielder.

A REAL GEM

If there are any Arsenal fans questioning why they have moved for a player who has made just three starts for a – let's be frank – unspectacular Madrid side this season, it's worth recalling the amount of talent Zinedine Zidane has struggled to incorporate and subsequently discarded in recent years.

Marcos Llorente, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilon, Theo Hernandez, James Rodriguez – you could potentially even add Isco to that list in the not-too-distant future. All are fine players generally thriving elsewhere, but Zidane was seemingly unconvinced by them.

Injuries haven't helped Odegaard's cause this term, but his form with Real Sociedad on loan last season demonstrated just how impressive he is when given consistent opportunities – and it was revealed in July that he had been suffering with a chronic knee issue for most of 2019-20.

The 22-year-old created 62 chances in LaLiga last term, a tally only beaten by five other players, one of which was predictably Lionel Messi. 

 

That gave him a key pass frequency just under 0.5 every 90 minutes, which again ranked very highly among players with more than 30 chances created – six had better records, though his 6.8 xA (expected assists) rating was third only to Messi and Jesus Navas.

He also offers a great threat from set-pieces, with 27 of his key passes coming from dead-ball situations. This is an area Arsenal have struggled, as their 20 chances created from set plays is the fourth-fewest in the Premier League this term.

Odegaard was a major catalyst for La Real's largely impressive campaign, as they reached the Copa del Rey final – which is still due to be contested later this year – and finished sixth in LaLiga.

Arsenal fans will hope he can have a similar impact in the second half of the 2020-21 season, particularly given their lack of creativity at times this term.

WHERE WILL HE STRENGTHEN ARSENAL?

At La Real, Odegaard was often deployed from the right side of the attack in a 4-3-3, but given he is most comfortable on his left foot, he would routinely cut inside and wreak havoc in the middle.

 

While he spent more time on the right flank, with 38.3 per cent of his touches occurring in the right third of the pitch between the halfway line and the edge of the opposing area, much of his best work was carried out more centrally.

Indeed, 31.1 per cent of his key passes and assists came from the middle third of the pitch just outside the box.

 

Arsenal have been much less active centrally and on the right flank, with just under 12 per cent of their assists and chances created stemming from play in the middle of the attacking half. They aren't much more effective on the right, which will likely not come as a surprise to Gunners fans given the largely underwhelming form of Willian and Nicolas Pepe.

 

Odegaard's display in the September 2019 defeat at Sevilla was something of a microcosm of much of what he was good at last season, with his late assist for Portu seeing him come in off the right and play a disguised pass into the right side of the box for his team-mate to finish. Earlier on, he had taken up possession in a central area and sliced open the Sevilla backline only for Willian Jose to skew wide.

In both situations he showed great poise, a trait he has combined with his wonderful ability on the ball, as demonstrated by the fact he played 19 key passes after ball carries – Messi (30) had the most and was one of only five players to better the Norwegian in this area.

 

THE RISK OF SHORT-TERM LOANS

The addition of Odegaard will add some welcome creativity to Mikel Arteta's squad, the Gunners having managed 23 goals from 230 attempts (excluding penalties) - slightly below their 25.2 xG - so far in what has been a topsy-turvy 2020-21 season. 

Arsenal players have collectively created 26 Opta-defined "big chances", well adrift of the league-high 43 recorded by Manchester City in 2020-21. While this only includes shots that have been specifically assisted by a pass, it does highlight a creative deficiency.

 

Emile Smith Rowe has impressed of late, contributing three assists in open play, but no individual has created more chances for them in the Premier League than Bukayo Saka, his total of 23 putting him one above Kieran Tierney. It is clear they need greater threat in central areas, and Odegaard should offer that.

But, while he is undoubtedly a fine talent, Arsenal fans should be wary and patient – Odegaard hasn't featured regularly this season so cannot be expected to be sharp, and this move is another instance of upheaval in a fairly short period of time after leaving La Real for a return to Madrid. It would unfair to assume he will find his stride immediately.

Short-term loans in the second half of a season are often risky and Odegaard will likely take a little while to get up to speed. If he adapts quickly, his arrival could be a masterstroke – but if he doesn't it could be a wasted few months for both parties.

Arsenal will hope he's not another Denis Suarez.

Martin Odegaard says "top manager" Mikel Arteta played a "crucial" role in his decision to join Arsenal on loan for the rest of the season. 

Odegaard sealed another temporary exit from Real Madrid on Wednesday and will now showcase his talents in the Premier League for the first time. 

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder revealed Arteta convinced him a switch to north London was the right option at this stage of his career, having featured sparingly for Madrid this term.

"I spoke to him before coming here, of course," Odegaard told Arsenal.com. "That was very important for me and he seems like a top manager and I liked his ideas, the way he sees football and also the way he is.  

"He gave me a great feeling and that was important for me to come here. He was crucial. 

"I think every time you go to a new place, you want to make sure that it feels good and that there is a plan. But I think everything here just seems good.  

"I like the club and I always liked the way that the club wants to play. Everything about the club and now how the manager wants to play, I think it's a club that really suits me well. So I think it's a good match."

Odegaard thrived during his time on loan with Real Sociedad last season, scoring seven times in all competitions and providing six assists.

He created 62 opportunities in the Spanish top flight, more than any of his team-mates, while also recording a passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent. 

Madrid cut short Odegaard's planned two-year loan at La Real, but the playmaker is on the move again after struggling for playing time in Zinedine Zidane's side.

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