February 26, 2021

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Arsenal news: Martin Keown criticises Rob Holding, calls for new-look attack

3 min read

The former Gunners stalwart was unimpressed with Arsenal’s approach (Pictures: Getty Images)

Martin Keown says centre-back Rob Holding forgot ‘the basics’ in Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City on Sunday and has called on Mikel Arteta to replace two attackers in the starting XI.

The north London club conceded inside the first two minutes at the Emirates as Raheem Sterling rose above the Gunners’ defence to guide a free header into the back of the net in what proved to be the winning goal in a 1-0 victory for City.

Arsenal only mustered one shot on target in the game and City’s back-line were largely comfortable throughout.

Sterling was left unmarked to head City into the lead early on (Picture: Getty Images)

Keown was dismayed that the diminutive Sterling was able to score with a header, while he also felt Arsenal needed to press higher up the pitch and would prefer to see Alexandre Lacazette and Emile Smith Rowe – both introduced as subs – start ahead of Nicolas Pepe and Martin Odegaard.

‘A manager can talk tactics with his players until he’s blue in the face, but Manchester City’s goal came about because the basics weren’t followed,’ Keown wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

‘Rob Holding didn’t pick up Raheem Sterling and the 5ft 7in winger scored a winning header with two minutes on the clock.

‘It surprised me that Arsenal didn’t press Manchester City like they had pressed Leeds in their last home game.

‘It was courtesy of their high press against Leeds that Arsenal won a penalty to make it 2-0. Emile Smith Rowe later picked up possession on the edge of the opposition box before assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make it 4-0. Yesterday was different. Arsenal showed the visitors too much respect and City were allowed to dominate.

‘They could bring it out from the back without any pressure. Several times in the first half, Ruben Dias was sitting as the nightwatchman while every other City player was within 60 yards of the Arsenal goal.

Keown wants to see a front four of Smith Rowe, Saka, Aubameyang and Lacazette (Picture: Getty)

‘That includes John Stones, who is a man reborn. He didn’t miss a beat with his passing and his defending was just as strong. Aubameyang had no joy against him.

‘City boss Pep Guardiola said he’s going to have to rotate his team to cope with their schedule.

‘For Mikel Arteta, the front four who finished this game are his best combination and they need to be starting matches. I’d like to see Aubameyang on the left, Alexandre Lacazette central, Bukayo Saka on the right and Smith Rowe in behind.’

Pep Guardiola praises Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka and says Gunners made Manchester City ‘suffer’

MORE : Alex Scott questions Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta for playing ‘bang average’ Martin Odegaard over Emile Smith Rowe

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