Martin Keown has joined a long list of pundits who have been laying into Arsenal following our 3-2 loss against Manchester United this past weekend, blasting Gabriel Paulista and Aaron Ramsey in particular, as reported by the Daily Mail.
The former Arsenal centre-back was highly critical of our defence, but also suggested that he felt bad for Francis Coquelin having to do everything himself.
“For the second [goal] I feel sorry for Francis Coquelin,” he wrote.
“He gave the ball away but he knows his defensive responsibilities and tried to recover. Meanwhile, his midfield team-mates were not interested in defending.”
While Coquelin may not have been at his best, he did his utmost to stifle counter-attacks and prevent United from getting any real momentum. It was a lazy performance from the team as a whole though, and our lack of energy, commitment, and desire was the main reason we struggled so badly.
A number of players just seemed to switch off randomly or totally ignore their defensive duties, jogging back when they really should have been breaking their necks to make a tackle.
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Keown highlighted Ramsey and Gabriel as the main culprits, and while there were other players who really underperformed, it’s hard to disagree with him.
“For United’s first they deserve credit for hitting an early cross that caught out Arsenal. But the centre backs were too far apart and Gabriel did not move until the ball was on its way,” he continued.
“Aaron Ramsey is great at sniffing out attacking opportunities but he did not sense the defensive threat and the United midfield could gallop forward with Ander Herrera in acres of space. It was far too easy.”
Coquelin is unquestionably a top quality defensive midfielder, but he can’t do everything alone. It’s ridiculous how much we miss Santi Cazorla in that regard, as the Spaniard is surprisingly astute defensively.
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We can’t rely so heavily on one player though, and we should still have more than enough about us with a Ramsey and Coquelin partnership. Our loss against Man United was purely down to a lack of effort on our part, and the players need to know that their performance was nowhere near good enough.