Jamie Carragher has taken aim at Arsenal’s “malignant” senior players who are not pulling their weight, leaving the burden of responsibility on the club’s emerging talents.
Mikel Arteta’s experienced players, such as captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 31, and veteran winger Willian, 32, have come under fire for their sub-par performances this season.
In contrast, the likes of Bukayo Saka, 19, and Emile Smith Rowe, 20, have been two of the Gunners’ brightest sparks over the course of a torrid season.
Arsenal sit 10th in the Premier League after a 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool last weekend, while their Europa League hopes hang in the balance after a dismal 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague on Thursday.
Carragher admits Arteta faces a huge challenge to root out his uninterested senior players, as this is a deep-set issue which also plagued his predecessors Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger.
“They are a malignant influence who will contaminate the training ground and may leave a negative legacy for the generation which follows,” Carragher told the Daily Telegraph.
“That’s arguably the biggest, most recurring problem Arteta is trying to fix right now.
Which senior players would Arsenal be better off without? Have your say in the comments.
“What was the club’s strength at the turn of the millennium is a serious weakness in 2021. That’s why patience has run out amongst the club’s fanbase and they would prefer to see Arteta build around his exciting youngsters.
“That perspective is understandable and Arteta may have no option but to go down that route in the short-term, but it is as damning on the club’s established stars as it is as a compliment to the young talent.
“Through the latter years of Arsene Wenger, into the reign of Unai Emery and now Arteta, there has been a massive erosion of trust in those who are supposed to be leading by example.”
Arsenal travel to Premier League stragglers Sheffield United on Sunday night before a trip to the Czech Republic next week, where they will bid to book their spot in the Europa League semi-finals in their second leg with Slavia Prague.
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.