Mikel Arteta disrespected the competition that gave him early managerial leverage by fielding a weakened Arsenal side against Southampton in their FA Cup exit.
This is the verdict of Chris Sutton, who adds that the Spaniard has to win the Europa League now.
Arteta won the FA Cup in his first half-season as the manager of Arsenal and followed that up with winning the FA Community Shield.
He beat Newcastle in Arsenal’s first match of the competition this season and had to see off Southampton the last time out.
But he brought back the likes of Willian and Nicolas Pepe from the Arsenal bench into the starting XI. The decision cost him with his team losing 1-0 to the Saints.
With the Gunners not challenging for the Premier League title, and having exited the Carabao Cup, Sutton said Arteta treated the competition like the Mickey Mouse Cup.
He wrote in his column on Mail Sport: “Why not start Kieran Tierney at Southampton? Why not start Emile Smith Rowe? Why not start Bukayo Saka? Why bring in Willian at No 10? The Brazilian has been about as useful as a chocolate teapot this season. Nicolas Pepe hasn’t been much better. He’s been more of a £72million problem than solution.
“This isn’t the Mickey Mouse Cup. This is the FA Cup, and the XI that Arteta selected at St Mary’s screamed surrender. Southampton went strong, Arsenal didn’t — and the result was predictable.
“Maybe Arteta would have lost even if he’d fielded his first team. Southampton’s players look like they would run through brick walls for Ralph Hasenhuttl. We talk about their high press a lot, but it doesn’t get any less impressive when you see it in action. They hunt in packs. They win the ball then use it well. But Arsenal supporters could accept going down with a fight.
“Saturday didn’t feel like that. It felt more like a waving of the white flag. Doing what he did only puts more pressure on Arteta.
“He should have stayed loyal to the competition which has helped him keep hold of his job.”