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The five Arsenal players who must prove a point to Mikel Arteta after the winter break

Arsenal have returned from their warm weather training camp in Dubai, and continue their quest for Champions League qualification this weekend.

The Gunners are unbeaten under Mikel Arteta this calendar year and aim to keep that run going when they welcome Newcastle United to the Emirates.

New signing Pablo Mari could make his debut, while there will be others in the squad who will be aiming to regain their place after limited playing time in recent months.

Here we take a look at the five players that have a point to prove to Arteta as the Gunners return to action on Sunday.

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James Benge – Senior Club Writer

Pablo Mari

The new Arsenal signing arrives with plenty of background murmuring about what it was that took a 26-year-old Spaniard to Brazil in what ought to have been the prime years of his career.

Those who saw him at Flamengo, including David Luiz, are convinced it will have been the making of him and Mari will need to vindicate them swiftly as Arteta looks for consistency, aerial strength and an eye for a pass from his centre-backs.

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Sead Kolasinac

If Arsenal’s January interest in Layvin Kurzawa proved anything it is that Kolasinac is playing for his future. That has been the case before – early last season the club were minded to sell him before he proved his doubters wrong.

Now with Bukayo Saka excelling and Kieran Tierney’s return fast approaching Kolasinac has to prove that he can be as solid defensively as he is dangerous in attack.

(Image: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Alexandre Lacazette

Just score Alex. There has been much to admire about the diligence with which Lacazette has gone about his other duties under Arteta but until he puts one in the net there will always be murmurs about whether Arsenal would be better off with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the line.

Nicolas Pepe

It has been a stop-start season for Pepe, one riven with flashes of real quality but overall rather more frustrating than might have been expected of a £72million player.

Gabriel Martinelli’s emergence has not helped but it also ought to spur the Ivorian into action. Pepe has proven he is an able dribbler, fearsome with a dead ball and explosive in broken play but as yet he is struggling to show what he can do against a set defence. That must be his next step.

Mesut Ozil

He is taking steps in the right direction under Arteta even if rather too many of his passes are not – his pass map in recent weeks shows a remarkable willingness to move the ball backwards.

Ozil might be improving but he is not impacting winning with a tally of zero goals and one assist this season. That must increase swiftly.

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