Martin Keown puts the blame on Unai Emery for toxic atmosphere at Arsenal

Martin Keown blames Unai Emery for Arsenal’s crisis.

Martin Keown believes Unai Emery got it all wrong from the moment he made Granit Xhaka the club’s captain. The former Gunner believes that is what set in motion the toxic environment that has engulfed the club.

Arsenal was plunged into a mini-crisis at the weekend when fans booed off Granit Xhaka. However, that wasn’t the first time the midfielder has been booed off this season and it could have been avoided.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Keown recalled the fact that Xhaka was booed off when he was substituted against Aston Villa earlier in the season, he left the pitch with the Gunners losing 2-1, the team went on to win 3-2 with ten men.

A mere five days later Emery named the Swiss international the club’s captain based on teammates’ votes. But Keown believes that was just a ‘ popularity contest’.

Keown believes Pierre Emerick Aubameyang remains a better bet to lead the Gunners. He feels the problems could have been avoided if the goal machine had been named the club’s captain instead.

Managers decide captains. For Unai Emery to leave it at the hands of teammates to decide who leads them, it seems the Spaniard is not in total control of the dressing room.


  1. It’s all on Emery. If Arsenal were playing well and winning games, even the worst player would not be booed. But the fans are tensed and disappointed. They(We) are itching to boo anyone. It’s kind of therapy

  2. The atmosphere at theEmirates has been toxic for a while now. Lambasting certain players was high on the agenda of certain pundits, Keown included. Last year everything was blamed on Ozil, now it is Xhaka. While Xhaka never really hit the heights under Wenger, I can be argued he was not that underwhelming. The supporters are supposed to be the twelfth man, do they take this responsibility? I still remember the booing of Eboue. That was disgraceful! The current plight of Arsenal is down to only one man and that’s Unai Emery. Completely out of his depth at Arsenal.

  3. Keown got it bang on target. The buck stops with Emery. It’s probably going to get uglier before getting better.

    I hope the warring parties sheathe their swords. A war of attrition is what we don’t need at this time. We need to jaw-jaw, not war-war.

    Emery should allow Xhaka to get off the limelight for now. He should be helped to get his thoughts together and become mentally prepared. I am not sure how far the abuse has gotten to him. He may not be prepared to continue as our player, which will be sad. On the other hand, he may just need to be taken off the line of fire for a bit.

    This will pacify some of the fans who want to eat him raw anytime they see him on the field. On the other hand, Emery needs to be his own man, yes, but he also needs to listen and borrow a lead from other people, fans included. He seems to be a bit out of touch with the fans and the reality on ground is that you need the fans on your side if you’re going to move forward. The fans can rock your boat badly and he must have seen that first hand.

  4. Finally, someone who has the balls to say the truth other pundits been scared to speak out.
    Anyone arguing against everything he said don’t know shît

    1. At Eddie
      I was one of the first to call out this clown of a manager the names I was called my my. Every game played by arsenal see another player abused. If the head of a stream is dirty the flow of clean water will be none existent. This Emery guy is a decisive figure his own words. No player or captain can fix arsenals problem.

  5. Emery should have enforced his authority by selecting his own captain. But I bet he saw some Gunners didn’t support him, hence he tried to buy their support by giving them some flexibility

    Arsenal have two options now. Try to sell the troublemakers like Xhaka or fire Emery in January

    I think their decision will depend on the upcoming EPL game result. If the players want to ruin their manager, as what they did to Wenger, they simply need to lose. But this will tell a lot about those players’ characters

    1. @ gotanidea,
      Emery to go.
      The only league he had less issue coaching was in Spain. This was because he didn’t coach teams as big as Arsenal. He did in France PSG but had issues with Neymar.
      The toxic situation in Arsenal stadium was not caused by Grant Xaka but poor performancers which the supporters who paid huge amount to watch their team are not comfortable with. This situation Emery is yet to correct by grinding out good results to give supporters hope. And I am unsure Emery has the tactical capacity to effect a change.

  6. So according to admin Martin, Pep doesn’t have ‘total control’ of City’s dressing room? 🤔

    After all if Emery letting our players pick their own captain proves that, then surely when Pep let City pick after Kompany left it means the same? Or is it just that anything Emery does is to be criticised just for criticisms sake?

    I don’t agree with Xhaka being captain (going on before his tantrum, hopefully the management will deal with that incident and he doesn’t deserve the armband again imo) but if that’s who the team felt comfortable leading them, then who am I to argue?

      1. No I’m saying you can’t use it as an excuse to insult one manager when a top quality manager used the exact same method to pick his captain too.

        It can’t prove anything unless it’s also proof the other way too 🤷‍♂️

          1. You could also say that as we don’t have anyone who is a clear cut Captain, maybe it’s best to see who the players themselves want and respond to in that role?

            My point is that it’s unfair to claim it proves he doesn’t have control of the dressing room unless we claim it proves the same for everyone who has allowed the team to pick – ie Pep

        1. Insult? surely you mean criticise? And of course you can, one manager can have the character, presence and trust of the team, whereas another manager may not. Different managers, different scenarios. Just because one manager does something that works does not mean it is appropriate for another manager to do that.

          1. Seemed more insulting than critical to me but I will admit maybe I used the wrong word there – apologies.

            You are correct in that it may be better for one manager to choose that option than it would for another manager depending on situations BUT your statement that it must PROVE he has lost control of the dressing room is wrong – that’s no more than your opinion on the situation and looking for something to give that opinion validity 🤷‍♂️
            After all players coming out and saying they trust Emery, Ornstein claiming that whilst a few players are confused where they fit in and what Emery wants from them, most of the squad are behind the process and so is the management really don’t do much to fit your narrative do they?

            1. You know what, I agree with you. I am not sure why I allowed the last part to go through, I knew at the time that my wording was not a true reflection of my own personal thoughts, it was more about trying to relate to what Keown was saying and feed off of what he wrote. This was not a personal piece but came across like that, that I accept. Personally, I do not feel Emery has lost the dressing room or Xhaka for that matter. But I suspect he will in time.

          2. Fair play admin Martin 👏

            For what it’s worth I share your fears, Emery is now in the position where he has to get the results/performances to 100% show the improvements he’s been trying to make and if he doesn’t deliver soon then not only will the dressing room turn against him but so will the management team and then it will be bye bye Emery 🤷‍♂️

    1. That is an odd conclusion to draw from what admin MARTIN said. I did not draw your conclusion at all. Not remotely. You need to compare like with like when drawing conclusions and there is no “like” at all between Emery and Guardiola. That should be obvious , I would have thought!

      1. So if by allowing the team to select its own captain its seemingly some type of proof that Emery has lost the dressing room and is a negative characteristic, then the same proof must exist for the same to be applied to Pep at City – the simple fact is the act in itself is proof of nothing, just because Emery decided to use a certain management style doesn’t prove anything just like it proves nothing about Pep, and shouldn’t be used against him unless you apply those same negatives to everyone who chose that approach 🤷‍♂️

        1. I would only respectfully mention the clear distinction between the two. Pep’s teams have a specific style of play first and foremost. Perhaps Pep let the players pick the person who best and inspires them, because Pep himself is constantly leading from the sidelines and changing tactics.

          Emery has no style of play, and perhaps felt he needed more of a authoritarian figure than an inspirational one, and let the players choose their captain. Emery has a plan A only, and apparently expects the team to stick to his plan and needs his captain to enforce that.

          I don’t know I admit that, I’m not in the locker room or either manager’s office. However, Pep has the CV and titles every time he goes to a new club, and the players trust and respect from the start.

          How does Emery compare to that? HE came after huge fallout with PSG, openly states he looks to cause friction with certain players, and it looks to fans as a way to kiss up and buy good will with new players.

  7. Please my arsenal do not follow United.
    Arsenal cannot afford to change our DNA which is what brought us where we are. If you look at what is happening to Manchester United since Ferguson let you would have noticed they are like a lost soul. I think what Wenger gave us was something special. I think all that was missing in Wenger’s last ten years was quality and fire. Arsenal needs I think to give this squad of players to a past Wenger player because a lot of players are here at arsenal because of our DNA/Legacy which was created by Mr Wenger whether you like it or not.

  8. It is obvious to and no scoop to anyone! Emery does it all wrong from players he puts on field. It is a total mess and mediocrity. He has no sense of balance in picking a team and proposes a boring football, defensive minded wich is not Arsenal DNA.

    He uses Xhaka as a DM resulting with poor performances as his game is not to defend but produce passes going forward, can shoot long range, distribute, block attacks and counter as he also can tackle, help defend.

    But not a DM. Same for Niles, not a RB, with Pepe not chasing his defender, Niles has 2 men to guard and running at him. Chambers also got in same trap and looked average. It was shocking to see Auba chasing Pepe’s man. How is he supposed to score doing so? Get booed too?

    Kroenke wanted Ozil and Mustafi out, gave Ceballos to Emery to burry Ozil and have him leave…Even with Ozil out, he can’t put proper team.

    Xhaka poor performances as DM is something Emery should have said in press in order to protect him. Seeing how Xhaka was getting blamed, he should not have exposed him with a captain nor play him home on next game, that is to protect players as great coaches happen to do and priority.

  9. Truth be said, as a Gunner fan for several years, I can’t even beat my hands on my chest that we can win any team in the premier league. Emery and Xhaka are not good enough. Xhaka is not a defensive midfielder and Emery’s team selection is nothing to write home about. In 25 league matches, it was only away to Watford end of last season with 10 men and at Newcastle in the 1st game of this season that Arsenal didn’t concede a goal.Let us remember this day, with Emery as manager and Xhaka as captain this season, Arsenal will NEVER qualify for champions league. We are a team without identity that any team can roll us over.What a shame!

  10. Keown is right. Once Xhaka was named the captain the pressure rose exponentially as most fans believe he is not good enough as a player never mind a good captain. To be honest its never good when fans openly boo or deride their own players but this sentiment didn’t just begin on Sunday, it was a culmination of months of frustration with Xhaka’s performance going back to the days of Wenger. Xhaka is human and has feelings but to react the way he did was also wrong. The truth though is that its not Xhaka’s fault he is being selected to play week in week out. We all know he is limited in what he can do; he is slow, he is caught of position too many times, he doesn’t have the requisite skill to beat his man one on one and he often gives away needless penalties and free kicks. I do believe he is trying but he just doesn’t have the ability but somehow Emery seems hell bent on starting him which has further irritated the majority of fans.

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