Mikel Arteta calls on Arsenal to master dark arts ahead of Newcastle clash

Arsenal's Spanish manager Mikel Arteta looks on during the English League Cup fourth round football match between West Ham United and Arsenal at The London Stadium, in east London

Mikel Arteta wants his Arsenal players to harness the ability to be more streetwise on the pitch and is training them to manipulate clashes in their favour, with their Newcastle clash looming. Picture: Henry Nicholls/AFP

Published Feb 24, 2024


Mikel Arteta has urged his Arsenal stars to use football's dark arts to their advantage because he fears it is not in their "DNA" to be nasty.

Arteta wants his players to harness the ability to be more streetwise on the pitch and is training them to manipulate clashes in their favour

Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice admitted after Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at Porto in the Champions League last 16 first leg that his team need to be more “savvy".

Porto slowed the game down at the Estadio do Dragao, with 36 fouls committed by both teams combined in a Champions League record for this season.

Tough nut to crack

Newcastle could prove a similarly tough nut to crack for title chasing Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, but Arteta hopes his advice about provocation pays off.

"There are ways to do it," Arteta replied when asked how a manager develops dark arts in his squad.

"It is the way you talk to them, showing them clips, training - putting them through scenarios, pinching them a few times as well.

"Learning from other players who do it really well and from teams who are masters at it. There are ways to do it.

"It's very important. That's a way of competing for a team, you know. And you can tell that the best players in the world have the ability to take advantage - always.”

Arteta conceded such an approach has been missing from Arsenal and that it is something that is considered in recruiting new players.

Something that has to be developed

"Overall when you build a squad you need that certainly - but it comes," he said.

"Sometimes it comes from the culture of the club. You see that there are clubs that they have that in their DNA.

"It is not something that you would directly link with Arsenal, that's for sure but it is something that has to be developed.”

Pushed on if his players were nasty enough, the Spaniard added: "Nasty? I don't know. They are incredible players, that is for sure.

"I think this team has got enough intelligence and enough experience to deal with many situations."