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Football Reporting


Europa League – ‘It’s gut-wrenching’ – Martin Keown criticises Arsenal’s performance against Slavia

Former Arsenal centre-back Martin Keown has criticised his old club’s “atrocious, non-existent” defending, as well as Thomas Partey’s midfield performance, following a 1-1 first leg draw with Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Nicolas Pepe thought he had done enough to win the game for Mikel Arteta’s side after coming off the bench to score, until they conceded a 94th minute equaliser through a header from Thomas Holes.

It was a generally lacklustre performance from Arsenal, whose starting XI were wasteful in attack and slow in their approach play, until the arrival of Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brought an extra spark to their play.

Keown was particularly scathing of Partey’s display, criticising the former Atletico Madrid midfielder for failing to influence the game.

“Partey was another player that really disappointed me,” Keown told BT Sport.

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“Watching it live here, and we’re not getting into the stadiums that often, he didn’t look like he had the legs to get around the pitch.

He wasn’t really bossing that midfield, and credit to them, by the way, Slavia Prague because they’ve got lots of good players and made good substitutions.

“But that’s an area of the pitch that I would’ve thought by now, he would be bossing.”

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A player who was part of an era of no-nonsense defenders like Tony Adams and Steve Bould, Keown was even more saddened his former club were not able to see out the win.

“It’s gut-wrenching,” he said. “You thought that Arsenal had just about done enough.

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“They had good opportunities in the game, Lacazette with a great opportunity, then they just got ahead through Pepe after making the changes. The substitutes gave Arsenal much more energy.

The marking for the corner is atrocious or non-existent. Gabriel, in the build-up to that there’s a bit of panic, a nervousness.

“No clean sheet in 14 games for Arsenal and it showed tonight. When they needed it most, to keep a clean sheet in the last 5 or 10 minutes, they just couldn’t do it.”

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