Former Arsenal centre-back Martin Keown has continued to raise questions about the Gunners’ defensive qualities, despite their impressive 3-0 win over Frankfurt in their Europa League group-stage opener this evening.
The Gunners, who went into the contest under growing pressure after a stuttering run in the Premier League, got the job done thanks to goals from Joseph Willock, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But despite the Gunners’ efficiency in front of goal, their defensive line still looked fragile at times, leading Keown into raising questions about their solidity at the back.
“There is an openness to the way Arsenal play right now,” Keown told BT Sport. “Back in the day, 1-0 to the Arsenal meant a certain thing – compact, difficult to beat and very few chances. But tonight it was something very different.
“They rode their luck and at the start of the second half – it was more of the same; giving free-kicks away – there were players in the box with open opportunities. It was worrying but they managed to get through that period.
“This distance between the midfield and the back four has to change. It is a happy night for Arsenal, but looking at it, a good team, a really good team.
“The ‘keeper by the way, Martinez, was outstanding and will be knocking on the door to get in the first-team, there is no doubt about that.”
Keown also raised questions about the Gunners’ zonal marking, continuing: “Balls coming into the box – who is marking?
“It is a simple exercise. Balls out wide, don’t switch off and pick up your man in the box. And all too often, I’m afraid that wasn’t happening.”
Before picking out David Luiz individually, insisting that the Brazilian, a summer signing from Chelsea, has got to improve.
He said: “David Luiz is doing the minimal amount of work there. I’m being very critical but he is going to have to improve, because he has to be the leader in that defence”
Keown then concluded his post-match analysis by handing Gunners boss Unai Emery a piece of advice.
The former England international believes the Spaniard must find the right formation for side otherwise they run the risk of shipping a lot of goals in the Premier League.
“We saw individual performances today, but the tactics give you the platform as a player to play,” he said.
“The manager needs to find the right tactics, he’s been here a year and has had long enough to do that.”I know he has been turning that titanic around because Wenger was there for 20 odd years, but now he has got to start improving, because otherwise in the Premier League they will ship a lot of goals.”