Emmanuel Petit this week added his name to a growing list of former Arsenal players and popular pundits to rip into the under-performing Gunners, with the north London side languishing in mid-table obscurity.
Despite glimpses of positive signs under Mikel Arteta, the Spaniard just can’t shirk his side’s inconsistency, with the Arsenal boss even conceding that his team are ‘two faced’.
Petit, who lifted a Premier League title and FA Cup with the Gunners, branded his old club’s recent recruitment as ‘ridiculous’, and claimed that some senior players act like they are on ‘vacation’.
Under-performing Arsenal have not been short of scathing criticism under Mikel Arteta
‘For me, the biggest mistake they have made in the last few years is their ridiculous transfer activity,’ he said. ‘When I look at the older players in the team, it’s like they think it’s a retreat football club, somewhere you just go for a vacation.’
The Frenchman’s stinging rebuke was followed by strong admonishment from another former player.
Martin Keown did not hold back during punditry duty on Thursday evening having watched Arteta’s men gift Slavia Prague an away goal in the final minute of their 1-1 draw in the Europa League quarter-final first-leg tie.
‘It seems like Arsenal are not proactive in games, they need someone to slap them or punch them in the face before they wake up and start to play,’ he said, following another abject first-half display.
Emmanuel Petit is the latest ex-player to lay into them, following on from pundit Gary Neville
Martin Keown laid into Arsenal after their draw with Slavia Prague on Thursday night
The comments follow on from Gary Neville’s concerns that a ‘little mafia’ has formed among the Gunners, such was his astonishment with their poor display against Liverpool.
‘Coming out on Saturday, it felt like there were a few players in that front part of the pitch – it looked like a little mafia,’ the Man United legend said. ‘It looked like a little group of players that were not comfortable, like there was a disconnect between them and the manager (Mikel Arteta). Like the manager looked like he had enough of them.’
Arsenal’s alarming slide down the Premier League table has seen a plethora of pundits and former players lay into the north Londoners.
Sportsmail picks out the most scathing remarks made of the Gunners.
Paul Merson: Arsenal are a mid-table side, Aubameyang ‘brings nothing to the party’
Having ended last season strongly with a magnificent FA Cup triumph, Gunners fans had high hopes that Arteta could lead them back into the Champions League this time around.
However, qualification for European football’s top competition via a top four finish looks unlikely, with Arsenal playing catch up from the very off.
The Gunners have found themselves languishing in mid table obscurity for most of the season
The Gunners lost four of their opening nine league games in a worrying start to the campaign. Arsenal legend Paul Merson had already seen enough to determine that his former side would not be fighting for the top places.
‘You watch them and think they are a middle-of-the-table team,’ Merson told Sky Sports last November. ‘Where are Arsenal going? People say you can see what Arteta is trying to do, but I’m not sure.’
Arsenal’s slump in form coincided with the barren spell of star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gunners star delighted fans by signing a contract extension last summer, but has had a very quiet campaign by his standards. Merson questioned the striker’s value to the team.
Merson called Arsenal ‘mid table’ and queried Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s value to the team
‘Aubameyang is bringing absolutely nothing to the party at the moment,’ he added. ‘He played central (against Leeds) and he was ineffective as he was before.’
Merson offered fresh remarks on Arsenal’s plight this week, describing their performance against Liverpool as ‘as bad as I have ever seen’ while comparing Arteta with Jose Mourinho.
He told Sky Sports: ‘When they get beat and he comes out and takes the blame, he’s just doing the opposite to what Jose Mourinho does when he criticises his player, but Arteta is thinking exactly the same as Mourinho.
‘Mourinho just says it and the difference is one manager has been around for a long time and he’s won everything in the game.’
Aubameyang has endured a quiet season by his standards, scoring nine in 25 league games
Graeme Souness: Arsenal ‘going nowhere’
As Merson predicted, Arsenal have failed to drastically improve on the position they found themselves at the start of the campaign.
Defeat to Aston Villa in early February left the Gunners 11th in the league, with fans being forced to face the sobering reality that their side have fallen way off the pace compared to their big rivals.
True to form, Graeme Souness offered a damning verdict on Arsenal’s predicament, outlining that the rudderless club are ‘going nowhere’.
Arsenal’s alarming slump has left supporters concerned about the direction they are going
‘I don’t pay a lot of attention to them. That says everything,’ the Sky Sports pundit said.
‘Arsenal are of one of the big clubs historically and right now they’re mid-table and appear to be going nowhere. That’s how I’d describe them.
‘They’ve gone backwards, the quality of players they have, their potential to win trophies, they’re nowhere near it.
‘Supporters must be pulling their hair out. We should be thinking of Arsenal as a top six, top eight team in world football. It’s a classic case of mismanagement. I’m talking about above the manager.’
Graeme Souness said the Gunners are ‘going nowhere’ and fans ‘must be pulling their hair out’
Roy Keane: Arsenal are ‘soft’ and lacking ‘fight’
Petit claimed that Arsenal’s plight can be attributed in part to their ‘ridiculous’ recruitment, but for Roy Keane it is a lack of grit that has seen the Gunners fall down the pecking order.
The Gunners’ loss to Wolves before Christmas was their third home Premier League on the spin, having previously lost to Aston Villa and Leicester.
Former United captain Keane lambasted Mikel Arteta’s squad’s ‘determination’ following the defeat by Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
‘I don’t think the players are good enough,’ he said. ‘I think there’s a softness there.
While recruitment is a factor for Arsenal’s poor form, their mentality has been questioned too
Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane labelled Arsenal ‘soft’ and said that they lack ‘determination’
‘I think their cheerleaders were out when they had a decent performance against United. They’ve had one point since then, lost the other two games.
‘I think they look soft. Probably lacking a bit of confidence. I didn’t see that fight the manager was talking about. I didn’t see that determination to get the result.
‘You can have an off night, but you still find a way to get that result, and at this moment in time, I don’t see it with this group of players. I think they look a bit soft.’
Martin Keown: Arsenal dressing room ‘toxic’, club is in ‘free fall’
Like his old rival Roy Keane, Martin Keown knows what is required for a side to be challenging for top honours.
Having played alongside a whole host of perennial winners, the former Gunners defender is acutely aware of the importance of a harmonious dressing room environment.
In a season where the lows have outweighed the highs, Arsenal’s League Cup exit to Manchester City represented quite possibly the lowest point thus far, with the 4-1 defeat consigning Arteta’s side to seven domestic games without a victory.
Arsenal have endured abysmal runs of results that has left Arteta peering over the edge
Sportsmail columnist Keown expressed concern that the Arsenal dressing room had become ‘toxic’ in the aftermath of the quarter final defeat.
‘You wonder how toxic the dressing room is when there’s a growing group of players who don’t take part and sit in the corner,’ he told talkSPORT.
‘Some of the guys are not getting opportunities early enough, then all of a sudden we put Runarsson into the team when he’s not ready.
‘That has to come down to the manager. You really can’t get anything wrong from now on in, with the January transfer window coming up, there can be no more mistakes.
The Gunners’ 4-1 defeat to Man City in the League Cup was their seventh game without a win
‘They paid £25m for William Saliba and he doesn’t have a squad number, Nicolas Pepe is wondering around like he’s not interested, Willian is on holiday.
‘You have to pick senior players you can rely upon and bolt young kids onto that, with players they can pick up the right habits. At the moment, the club feels like it’s in free fall.’
He was equally as scathing on Thursday night, too, following the disappointment of Tomas Holes’ late equaliser for Slavia Prague.
Martin Keown suggested that the dressing room environment had become ‘toxic’
‘For me it was about Arsenal tonight and the way they played. By sitting off they chose the wrong tactics,’ Keown told BT Sport.
‘There was an opportunity to take the initiative and ask questions, can you play? But they were allowed to settle and build from the back.
‘In the first-half it became nervy and they weren’t the team we saw just a few weeks ago against West Ham for instance.
‘It seems like Arsenal are not proactive in games, they need someone to slap them or punch them in the face before they wake up and start to play.’
Rio Ferdinand: Arsenal are ‘like a promiscuous girlfriend’
Arsenal’s woeful lack of consistency, in which they have been hampered by calamitous errors and poor discipline, is the source of most frustration for Gunners supporters.
For the north Londoners, this season has consisted of one step forwards and two steps back, a problem that Arteta has not yet found a solution to.
Where pundits often repeat the same cliches, Rio Ferdinand offered an analogy that perfectly surmised the Gunners this campaign following their draw with Burnley.
Arsenal’s lack of consistency has severely hampered their attempts to climb the table
Rio Ferdinand said Arsenal were like a ‘promiscuous girlfriend’ because you can’t trust them
Arteta’s side, having clinched an impressive 3-1 win away to Leicester the previous game, dropped two points at Turf Moor after Granit Xhaka gifted the hosts an equaliser.
‘Arteta must look at the squad like a promiscuous girlfriend,’ Ferdinand said on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube series. ‘He just must lack so much trust and faith in them. He can’t trust them at all, because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen at the moment.
‘He could do the best team talk of his life but they’re going to go out there and do their own thing and it doesn’t seem to be coming together.
‘They had all the chances to finish the game off, they could have finished the game off well before.
‘They’ve got good players there but for some reason, I don’t know what’s happening, it just isn’t coming together consistently at the moment.’