Arsenal's Arteta wants action on online abuse as players suffer

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has urged social media companies to tackle online abuse and highlighted the damaging effect it is having on players.

Marcus Rashford was among several Premier League stars to receive racist abuse this week after games and he said his experience was an example of "humanity and social media at its worst."

The Manchester United striker's team-mates Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were also targeted in addition to Chelsea's Reece James and Southampton's Alex Jankewitz.

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The Football Association and the Premier League have condemned the abuse and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the United Kingdom government are "willing to take the harder, legislative measures" on social media companies including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

"There are all types of different abuses and I think it has to be eradicated completely," Arteta said at a news conference on Thursday.

"I think social media has a big responsibility on that because you talk about the mental health of the players and public people and how exposed they are.

"I'm open and all for people to have their opinions, but not just to be insulting and abusing people and using a screen behind a mobile phone to tell whatever you want about a person that you don't even know.

"That for me has to be eradicated because it's causing a lot of damage in football and to public people.

"So I think we have to be really strong on that and I think you guys have a big part to play to support us and the industry here."

Several Arsenal players have also been criticised online this season for their performances including back-up goalkeeper Alex Runarsson, who could be in line to make his full league debut this weekend.

First-choice Bernd Leno is suspended following his red card at Wolves and Mat Ryan, a January loan signing from Brighton, is struggling with a hip problem.

Runarsson was left out of Arsenal's Europa League squad for the knockout stages with Arteta preferring to include Ryan after a series of nervous performances from the 25-year-old, who joined the club in September from Dijon.

Arsenal had hoped to sign David Raya from Brentford after allowing Emiliano Martinez to join Aston Villa in a £20 million deal but after that deal collapsed, the club moved for Runarsson.

"We had a plan on the goalkeeper's position and we could not execute the plan the way we wanted because of different reasons," Arteta said. "But Alex's role was very clear around the squad and that hasn't changed, then he needs to earn his opportunity and earn his place -- whether that is third, second or first [choice] depending on his performance and he needs to push for that.

"Yes [people have been too quick to judge] but this is what you face when you play for a big club. People expect when you go out there for you to give your best and perform at the top level -- and if you don't you are going to get criticism.

"You know that, before you join the club, that you are exposed all the time to critics and, as well, if you do really well everybody is going to be praising more than at any other club. You have to be able, if you want to play here, to handle that pressure.

"I think he knew and he expected that, and he needs to handle that. We are here to support him, he has played some games already here, he has played some good games. He had a difficult game against Manchester City. The other night [against Wolves] he came on and I think he did well.

"He works really hard. He has fit in really well around the dressing room. He is a really nice boy, really humble, and he needs to be away from all the comments and focus on his work, focus on improving. And when he has got the chance to, perform in the best possible way."

David Luiz was also sent off at Wolves and Arsenal expect to hear the outcome of their appeal in the next 24 hours.