Martin Keown asks about Ceballos – “Why is he even there?”

Arsenal were given an almighty scare at Athens but eventually came out of the hole they dug on their own through Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s 87th-minute header. It was yet another stressful day for the Arsenal faithful, who are now accustomed to expecting any possible thing when their team plays.

Arsenal somehow dominated both legs but still ended up conceding two goals. How? Well because they are Arsenal. The Portuguese side barely created a decent chance but saw themselves leading 2-3 on aggregate with 25 minutes to go.

Arsenal needed two goals. Mikel Arteta needed patience. Arsenal faithful needed calming down.

Dani Ceballos was at the heart of the problems which led to Benfica taking the lead at Karaiskakis Stadium, home of the Greek side Olympiacos, who knocked Arsenal out of this competition at this stage last year.

After replacing Ceballos with Thomas Partey, and making a further four changes, Arsenal were able to change the course of the game. But club legend Martin Keown believes that Ceballos should not have been where he was for Benfica’s second goal.

“Ceballos, this late in the season, he’s a creative midfield player being asked to do his defensive duties and he’s been found wanting. And that’s got to improve,” Keown said on BT Sport (transcribed by the Metro).

“A set of mistakes if you look at the tie overall, the penalty that was given away, the free-kick, and then Ceballos with that inconceivable header back to his own goal. And you’ve got to learn from this. Because you wonder, should Ceballos be the deep-lying midfielder there anyway? Because if they’ve got a corner and everyone has gone up, why is he even there? Because we’ve seen defensively it’s not his strong suit.”

The former Arsenal defender went on to say, “He’s someone who is creative, who can play with the ball. So that’s going to have to be looked at. Of course, he was taken off straight away. I was worried when Willian came on. Twenty-six appearances but only two shots on goal.”

On the Spaniard’s error for Benfica’s second goal on the night, Keown continued: “Well you hope he can come back from it, but I would argue as to why he’s sitting there on the edge of the box.”

These are simple problems that Mikel Arteta must address. If he does not then Arsenal must be ready to lose “season-defining” games.

Yash Bisht

Tags Benfica Ceballos Keown


  1. less than a week ago same pundits were asking why MA started Elneny over Ceballos, its funny how table has turned. the only player that remain in the 11 for all competition is Xhaka, and has been constitent. am happy for him and arsenal. to have a player who stay fit and consistent is a good thing

    1. Stay fit with back passes, the fact that xhaka is key player for arsenal this days is one of major reasons we are eleventh on the table. We should also beg Arteta to forgive martinelli of his sins

  2. Why on earth did Real Madrid sign Ceballos at best he’s an average Championship side player Not sure what he actually does He should never play for, Arsenal again and that’s not solely down to his performance against Benfica I can’t work out why Arsenal kept him for another season apart from two or three etter than average matches in Arsenal colours he’s been very poor

    1. Because other players we have at the same position aside from Xhaka and Partey are poorer. For me, Elneny and Matteo G. are no where near Arsenal standard. Arteta does not like Lucas T. and Torriera wants out. We lacked depth and we hoped Dani C. who has shown promise to do even better.

      I understand the frustration though.

      1. For me Matteo G is a very good player and better than Dani. Having said that, I fully accept that Arteta deems him unmanageble and that the guy seems to have personality flaw. This means we have to let hiom go. But he is so good IMO that we should get at least £30 mill for him.

        The moment he fixes his attitude he is going to make some club very happy. I don’t remember seeing him play a game in which he did not give 100%. He might be a handfull in training in terms of personality but the guys wants to win. If you look at other good players like AMN you some times wonder how much fire they have in their belly. This is not a concern with Matteo G.

        So if Arteta wants to sell him, I back him up, but let us sell him as a stud in the making and get at least £30 million for him. With our poor track record on trading players I fear for how much we will get for him.

  3. I hope cebelos is sent back to Madrid in the summer. He is simply not good enough and u said this from when UA was there. He had 1 or 2 good games and was poor after that.

    I beleive elnenay and toreira should be moved on. I’m not guendozies biggest fan but he is still young and can learn to go forward.

    The two players who should be back up to xaka and lartey are willock and AMN. Willock IMO is better than cebellos. AMN IMO is on pary with elnenay.

    Arteta continues to make questionable decision which will lead to us dropping points and dropping out of Europe.

    1. All RM players we hired are utter useless for AFC.- starting from Julio Bastista to Odegard. Same applies to CFC “legends” hired by us. While Willian struggles to put in one decent performance after the so called Fulham wizardry, Giroud scores them the winner in the UCL this week. Another stupid decision by Wenger.

  4. Why was Ceballos last man? And where was the holding mid and central defenders. Plus as is, his first thought was to pass it back, where is these instructions coming from, negative football catches you out and it definitely is us.

  5. Stand by my opinion that Dani is a very good player.

    Made a couple of errors last night granted (one inexplicable, and yes unacceptable).

    If errors of judgement such as the second were to happen again, of course longer term questions should be asked.

    But when I read comments such as “championship player” ?!?!

    1. I agree that he is better than a Championship player. But given the fact we don’t have a lot of cash, would you spend money on buying him? We desperatly need a bit more creativity to add to our squad. ESR can nor cary the team alone. And Dani doesn’t bring enough creativity to warrent buying him for that pupose.

      He is a bit in lala land for me, he is weaker than ESR in a creative role and he is weaker than Elneny in a defensive role.

      I like his attitude and on his day he can play a good game but he doesn’t seem like an automatic starter, ever. So for me we should keep our cash in our pocket this summer when it comes to Dani. Even if we could get him for £25 mill.

      We need to start adding the type of caliber player who is expected to be an automatic starter. Depth should come from our youth.

      We need a starter at right back IMO. We need an Aouar type creative player, better yet a Santi like creative player. We need to upgrade our striker duo if we can. Probably keep Auba but perhaps sell Laca for a striker with enough potential to become an other automatic starter.

      So IMO we can not spend a penny on buying Dani.

  6. Ceballos and odegard are both good players if used in the right way. To start with, ceballos is not a deep lying midfielder, neither can he operate as a box to box. It’s only necessities that makes him play where he is played. And we should stop this moaning and coming up with our own ideas of how things should be and what the coach should do or should have done. Most of us don’t make sense.
    Because there are many number of ways things can be done which the coach and sometimes the players have only one chance to choose one. If it didn’t go according to plan doesn’t make your own opinion more superior or better than his. Your opinion can be adopted and things still go wrong or even worse. Who told you your idea will win us every match in a very splendid way if adopted.
    Some of you perform woefully here from your replies when notched or put under pressure from comments.
    Y’all laughable sometimes.

  7. @TAoT

    A well put point of view, and I actually agree with so much you say.

    I do confess to rating Dani as a player, but long term is a different matter – and again, I agree with your well put comments.

    To be honest it was the “championship player” reference irked me somewhat.

    A player who overall has done well for us makes an error, and bang here we go – welcome to Arsenal Football Club .

    You refer to the “calibre of player” we need to bring in.

    This is where I agree massively.

    For far too long now we have been extremely guilty of bringing in players that do not necessarily IMPROVE the quality of our squad.

    Take the current “Bellerin debate”.

    I happen to be of the opinion Hector needs to move on, for the good of all parties.

    However, if this happens we need to bring in an obvious upgrade at right back – not, with all due, respect Cedric Soares.

    This applies across the squad.

    Truly “building” a team in every sense of the word is an art, but if ever a squad needed (long overdue) investment – it’s ours.

    Surely a busy summer window lies ahead.

    1. Well if you mean a busy summer with buying quality players, then I am afraid not! If you mean getting the remaining deadwood gone, than hopefully it will be. But as for importing better players than we have now, that will cost money and Kroenke will only allow peanuts. It will be busy with loans, both in and out IMO.

      Which is the main reason we are where are now and why we havebeen regressing ever since Kroenke first came, back in 2007.
      Some of us older ones remember that dreadful day only too vividly!

  8. I really felt for Dani. I thought he was having a good game up until giving away that free kick. It certainly wasn’t his finest hour, but he’ll bounce back.

  9. Dani is no different than most of our pseudo-DMs since Arteta arrived at the Emirates, as a player…think about it…Wenger constantly had slow-footed CMs playing in deep-lying positions under the guise of providing a more effective transitional game, which made no sense anyways because we’ve been a sideways, possession based, tika-taka, pass the ball into the net since RVP & Cesc left the building…from Mikel to Xhaka to Dani etc…all of these guys were known for their ability to provide offensively yet all are being required to supply pertinent defensive coverage…thank goodness we finally pursued Partey, as he’s an actual multi-dimensional midfielder…let’s just hope he can find a way to stay healthy enough to take on a role that we’ve desperately needed filled for the better part of 15 years or so…the fact that Arteta has taken up the whole Wenger “a good footballer can play any position” mantra raises some serious red flags with me

    1. TRVL, ” A good footballer CAN indeed play in most positions”.

      Our problem is that we have only about five really top players at the club plus a mere handful of others who are just about adequate, PLUS , a still large number who are no good at the level we need.

      We also have a great number of hasty, silly, juveniles who falsely blame Arteta for not having better players. Kroenke plus Gazidis and Sanllehi are to blame for that , not MA.

      His sole rotten deal was ,IMO, Willian and no other one at all.

      1. I agree Jon with your assessment of our current roster, and like yourself, I’ve been very outspoken about the state of the franchise both during and following the Wenger era(a name you surprisingly failed to add to your list of blame-worthy suspects), but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be held accountable for tactical and/or personnel decisions he’s made which have allowed such obvious vulnerabilities to persist

        if you’re going to rely on your wide-side players, especially your backs, to play a considerable role in your offensive schematics, which is already a questionable tactic considering the glaring lack of size up the middle to get on the end of the myriad of crosses, then you’re expecting your “deep-lying” midfielders to shoulder more defensive responsibilities…as such, you simply can’t rely on two individuals, like Dani and Xhaka, who are both below average defenders, to take on that additional burden as mistakes are bound to happen on a fairly regular basis…some like the backwards header from yesterday, but more often in the form of giving up unnecessary free kicks in dangerous areas due to poor decisions that are made as a result of their defensive deficiencies and lack of speed

        now that might mean that you shouldn’t have loaned out AMN or you should have Elneny playing more or maybe you should have sought out a more viable option in January instead of signing the promise-laden loan deal for Ode…these are all decisions that he could or should have made but he didn’t, and much like our former manager, who under that guise of the aforementioned mantra, caused himself and the fans considerable unnecessary grief, I don’t really want someone who prescribes to this way of thinking to be given the keys to the kingdom without the presence of a Dein-like character to provide some much-needed checks and balances

  10. Although there are a few arguments above, there’s a lot of sense being talked here. Arteta likes people in their best positions but he doesnt have the personel to do that. At city he had the luxury to play most of the squad in a variety of roles. But they are class players and ours aren’t. He has preferred to play our better players out of position to playing our poorer players in their correct roles. Occasionally it works – Cedric is a success. We cant pick and choose even who we loan in, and the recent loans of Dani and MO were both good, but they have not been quite versatile enough to play anything other than their first choice position. Ceballos in a C/AM. He makes mistakes and those are less damaging in the other half. Not his fault we play him as a DM.
    MA only wants to play his way but we have maybe only half a team playing in their natural position. Of the other half maybe only Saka is a total footballer – the rest as Jon said are not quite of the class they can carry off another role. Maybe slacken off the criticism as its often not complately their fault. All part of the project!

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