MIKEL ARTETA has branded Granit Xhaka’s red card against Burnley as “absolutely unacceptable” – and said it was “worse than Nicolas Pepe’s”.
The Swiss midfielder was sent off in the 1-0 defeat after a scuffle saw him grab Ashley Westwood by the throat.
After initially being given a yellow card, referee Graham Scott checked the VAR and changed his decision to a straight red.
With the Gunners down to ten men, Burnley went on to win 1-0 – their first ever victory at Arsenal – as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a horror own goal.
And Spanish boss Arteta, who has now seen the pressure on him ramped up even further, was far from impressed with Xhaka.
Asked if Xhaka’s red card was ‘unacceptable’ like Pepe’s vs Leeds earlier this month, Arteta said: “Same words.
“In these conditions even worse. The conditions we are in, without winning football matches, you cannot do that.
“I think it is related into how much will and energy they want to put in the games that they overstep the line.
“It is not an excuse because I want to be brave and be there to do what we have done today again – because you just give the game to the opponent.”
Pepe was banned for three games before being integrated back into the squad – Xhaka will now miss Arsenal’s next three league games.
The Spaniard added: “[Xhaka’s] made a mistake, the dominance we had at that point… it’s a game we clearly had to win but down to ten 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.”
A seventh defeat in 12 Premier League games means Arsenal are now struggling down in 15th place and without a win in five.
Arsenal host Southampton on Wednesday, before a trip to Everton on Saturday.
Arteta added: “I prefer to play in 72 hours. The players are hurting.
“Thank you so much to the fans because I think they were tremendous behind the team with the support that they were giving, and knowing how difficult it has been for us in this competition in recent weeks.
“I think they react like that because they see the team, how they try and how they go about it, how much passion they put into the game with no limitations.”
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