“You don’t want to create fear in your players,” Keown questions Arteta’s tactics

Martin Keown says Mikel Arteta’s tactic creates fear in his players as the Gunners struggle to play as he wants.

Arteta has insisted that his team plays out from the back, but they have struggled with that sometimes.

The latest example of how much damage that tactic can cause was when Granit Xhaka played the ball straight towards the body of Chris Wood in their last game against Burnley.

The Clarets’ attacker was pressing the Gunners in the box and Xhaka under-hit his pass straight at the New Zealander and it ended in the back of the Arsenal net.

The Gunners will continue to play that way and Keown admits they can do that.

However, he says they have to get the balance right to know when they should pass and when it is too risky to do that.

“You want to play from the back and you don’t want to create fear in your players,” he told Jim White on talkSPORT.

“But, at the same time, you don’t want them to make mistakes. You’ve got to get that balance right and, at the moment, Leno is a player where there are question marks and microscopes on him now.

“[Emiliano] Martinez was allowed to leave and go to Aston Villa and if you think about the back end of last season where Martinez came in, was that the difference?

“They went on to win the FA Cup, he played in the Community Shield final.

“It will cost Arsenal, ultimately, in this competition if they don’t learn to stop making silly mistakes.”

Arsenal has enjoyed much success with this approach and only need to be more careful as Keown has suggested.

Tags Martin Keown mikel arteta


  1. It’s the stupidity of the players that are causing these ridiculous mistakes.
    They are supposed to be professionals and, as such, should be able to assess such situations and play accordingly.
    The next thing we will be told, is that these players have to be drilled in every situation that might happen during a game!!
    These are international players who have won world cups, CL, PL and FA cups, not wet behind the ears Sunday morning players.
    For goodness sake Martin Keown, stop making excuses.

  2. The primary and most important task of the manager is to create a solid foundation – by selecting a style of play and formation – that fit the skills and abilities of available players, so that the players can perform at their best. This is the first real test for a good manager, in my view.

    1. Two simple maxims every player has drummed into them from a young age, regardless of the code of football:
      1. Don’t pass to a player in a worse position than yourself; and
      2. Don’t play the ball across your own goal mouth.
      As Ken says the players shouldn’t need to be drilled in simple practices that should be second nature to them, before they get anywhere near the EPL. If the players don’t have judgement by then, they will never develop it.

  3. I have to agree with Keown for once. Arsenal are too often set up to fail safe and do play with fear. All that side ways and backwards passing is not exactly designed to terrify the opposition. In any case a goal keeper shouldn’t be crucified if the coaches’ instructions are to keep the ball alive at all costs. It’s a specific skill that they need to learn at early age, and some will be better at it than others. In any case the goal by Burnley was Xhakas’ call. At the same time would anyone blame Arsenal’s descent on poor goal keeping? Yes there have been some gaffs but most of Arsenal’s losses over the last 15 to 16 years can be put down to the defence not covering a counter attack effectively or poor if not woeful defending of set pieces.

  4. there’s such a thing as a healthy amount of fear, unfortunately most of ours comes from constantly fielding several players who are simply not skilled enough to safely navigate their respective ways through the potential pitfalls/trappings that can occur when playing out from the back…the definition of insanity in a nutshell

  5. Leno- is surely not as good as Martinez. That position needs some reshuffling.

    We won the FA and the Shield, largely because of Martinez.

    And why do we we still have the likes of David Louis? How many penalties have suffered and lost/drawn games we shouldn’t have?

  6. The transfer/loss of Martinez proved the immaturity of MA as a manager. Leno is not so good at managing his defence properly. He is equally not so adept at playing the ball out of defence, hence those endless horrors! MA needs players that will be comfortable with his style, not the current shaky defence and their nervous goalminder

  7. “Arteta needs players that will be comfortable with his style”. How much more time and new players are you prepared to give him? And how much
    more deadwood do you create in the process? How much money will this cost? Very soon the cost of keeping Arteta will be more that player losses directly attributable to him. At that point, there will be no point in keeping him.

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