Martin Keown claims that the experienced players at Arsenal cost them their Europa League dreams.
It is safe to say that Martin Keown was left unimpressed by Arsenal’s players and Mikel Arteta after they crashed out of the Europa League last night.
The Gunners held a 1-0 lead from the first leg but they lost the reverse game 2-1 at the Emirates to the shock of many fans, Keown included.
The former Arsenal star condemned the players for letting a team that has lost 10 of their last 11 away European games get a win at the Emirates.
He also slammed Mikel Arteta for his decision making on the night and claimed that some of the decisions the Spaniard made showed just how new he is as a manager and how much more he had to learn before becoming a world-class manager.
He added that the Gunners were let down by their senior players who should have helped them and that the teenagers were the individuals who helped the team on the night.
He told Talksport: “I have been really impressed with Arteta… until last night,”
“I felt they started the game without pace.
“The opposition sat really deep and Arsenal didn’t have the answers and couldn’t find a way through, and at the end it was such a sucker punch.
Okay, you have to credit Olympiakos, but their away record in Europe is shocking – in their past 11 games they’ve lost ten of them.
“It was just too much for Arsenal last night.”
On Arteta not putting Gabriel Martinelli quicker, he added:
“I was incredibly disappointed with that [Martinelli staying on the bench], it seemed glaringly obvious to put him on,” continued the former defender.
“In fact, when Joe Willock went on in the 60th minute, Martinelli came running over to say, ‘when am I coming on?’
“Arteta didn’t put him on until the second half of extra-time and I felt he made the difference; he was involved in the build-up to Aubameyang’s great overhead kick goal. He gets into the box and makes things happen.
“Lacazette didn’t really show the movement last night, although I rate him as a player, and I felt it was an obvious change to make and the manager didn’t see that.
“I think Arteta has got to work it out a little bit quicker, work out the players he can reply upon.
“It’s about learning but there are experienced players who cost Arsenal last night, not the youngsters, the youngsters are the shining lights at Arsenal.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of comings and goings in the summer, there has to be, but he’s such a new manager and last night I think he maybe stuck with that formation just a little bit too long.
“Every man and his dog wanted Martinelli on the pitch last night, he’s been wonderful.
“I know it’s difficult… Arteta maybe felt he wanted to stick with people; you start with an XI and you want to finish with that XI, and you trust in them, but at some point that initiative needed to come from the sideline.”
Wow, Keown certainly had a lot to say but it is hard to disagree with most of what he had to say. It may just be one single game but to doubt that this game has set Arsenal back would be a mistake, it has, significantly so.
The road to next seasons Champions League is now far more difficult, the repercussions where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is concerned has yet to be calculated and who knows how much the defeat last night will have damaged the team’s fragile confidence.