Gabby Agbonlahor has praised Mikel Arteta for the way he has handled Arsenal’s first-team players, saying his team will be “afraid” of him.
The Gunners have undergone something of a transformation since the Spaniard took charge in December 2019, reducing the wage bill and providing a path for the club’s talented youngsters to succeed.
This saw Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli emerge as key players in his side.
As a result, Arteta offloaded several players, including Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who left the club in January.
Aubameyang and Arteta have endured a tumultuous relationship in the final months of the Gabon international’s stay in north London, with the head coach taking a tough stance by exiling the player from first-team duties after some indiscipline.
It was this uncompromising approach that led to a discussion on talkSPORT Breakfast in which Ally McCoist and Gabby Agbonlahor paid tribute to Arteta for the job he has done in managing the striker.
McCoist said: “Everyone was talking about the Aubameyang situation, saying ‘you have to get him back in the team’ and ‘do this with him’, it seems like he did just the right thing with him.
“He showed a bit of steel.”
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Agbonlahor added: “You look at Aubameyang’s situation and all the players are going to be scared to step off the line, in a good way.
“He stamped his authority on this team of players.
“If someone tries to step out of line, Arteta will be like ‘you saw what happened to Aubameyang, I’ll do the same with you’.
“He made Aubameyang an example to become a stronger manager. I think it worked, to be honest.
However, that view has not been echoed by Martin Keown who believes Arteta needs to be careful that his confrontational style doesn’t come back to haunt him.
Speaking on talkSPORT’s White and Jordan show following the player’s exit, Keown said: “What I wanted was for him. [Arteta] continuing to get the best out of a player, that’s the job of a manager, isn’t it, winning games and getting the best out of the players?
“Is this decision in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club? That’s all I watch. There is no replacement for the striker. Arsenal are fighting for fourth place and have the opportunity to do so.
“What I also don’t want is for the manager to have a reputation for falling out with the players. I don’t know if any other top manager has argued with so many players.
“Maybe it was easy to fall out with [Mesut] Ozil, people say I pick on him, but [Matteo] Guendouzi has since continued and has done quite well, he entered the France team.
“There have been one or two falls, and he may feel like he is eradicating a culture that was able to develop under Arsene Wenger, and I understand that.
“But at the same time, all footballers are very different, so what you have to do if you find a way to get the best out of everyone.
“You can’t keep arguing with people!”
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