Kevin Campbell says he felt sorry for Folarin Balogun and Gabriel Martinelli after they were allowed to shoulder the responsibility for scoring goals for Arsenal in their Premier League opener against Brentford.
Hours before the game kicked off, Arsenal announced that Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would miss it through illness.
It was a devastating blow to their plans for the match and meant that Mikel Arteta had to replace them with the 20-year-olds.
Their absence gave chances to Martinelli and Balogun to start the game, but the youngsters did little to give the Bees problems and Campbell has now slammed the strikers for leaving the goal-scoring responsibilities to them and says he felt sorry for the youngsters.
“Them missing out thrust two players into the spotlight,” Campbell told Football Insider.
“I know Martinelli has played before but he’s just come back from the Olympics. He’s not exactly a starter at Arsenal.
“Then Balogun, who’s still finding his feet, comes in. I felt so sorry for them. That’s not on.
“I felt sorry for Smith-Rowe as well because these young players need the help of an Aubameyang or a Lacazette.
“Whether they are in form or not, they are the players Brentford need to respect.
“Arsenal could have been playing until now and not scored.”
Arsenal went on to lose the game and it was later revealed that both strikers had tested positive for covid-19.
The club will want them back as soon as possible.