Mikel Arteta fires back at Bernd Leno over Arsenal comments and provides Emile Smith Rowe injury update

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Mikel Arteta has disagreed with Bernd Leno’s characterisation of the ‘politics’ he encountered at Arsenal, while the Spaniard has also provided an update on Emile Smith Rowe’s fitness.

The Gunners have flown to Zurich for their opening Europa League clash on Thursday night looking to bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

After the match, Smith Rowe took part in a warm-down with other substitutes but pulled up midway through and appeared to be in serious discomfort.

Arteta has now confirmed that his young attacker has been carrying an injury for some time and has not been able to train since the United game, with Smith Rowe now ruled out of the clash with FC Zurich.

Asked about the England international at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Arteta explained: ‘He felt some discomfort again in an area that he’s been dealing with now for a few weeks.

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‘He hasn’t trained in the last few days so he’s out of the squad.’

Arsenal are somewhat light on options to play on the left wing with Smith Rowe sidelined and Arteta has conceded that Gabriel Martinelli may not get the opportunity to be rested as a result.

On the Brazilian, Arteta added: ‘We just try to see where the players are at in the team and when it’s fair to certain players to demand what is going to be exposed.’

Away from team news, former Arsenal shot-stopper Leno gave a somewhat explosive interview with German newspaper Sport BILD in which he opened up on his time in north London and the reasons behind his departure.

‘When I realised that it wasn’t about performance or quality, I knew that I had to go,’ said the German.

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‘In preparation, I saw that it is not about performance, but only about politics. It was clear to me: I had to get out of here.’

Arteta did not seem best pleased by his former player’s comments, taking umbrage with his version of events and mentioning how often the German started prior to Aaron Ramsdale’s arrival.

Asked about Leno’s interview, Arteta said: ‘I’m really surprised and I don’t know if he’s talking about the politics when he was starting every match or when he wasn’t playing. Really surprised about it.’

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