Martin Keown says Arsenal were naive in their embarrassing League Cup final defeat to Manchester City, and blamed their schoolboy defending for the result.
Arsenal couldn’t match their Wembley opponents anywhere on the pitch on Sunday. They barely threatened the City goal, frequently lost possession in midfield and were even worse at the back. Keown told Monday’s Daily Mail it looks like the belief is gone from the side.
“Arsenal never laid a glove on City,” Keown said.
“There was a real naivety. Wenger is a fighter. When I played under him, his biggest strength was that he could create this belief among the group of players that we could beat anyone. That belief was glaringly absent at Wembley.”
Despite the poor individual performances, the former Arsenal defender said the main problem was that the team didn’t get the basics right.
Keown highlighted defensive errors as the root cause of their problems.
“If the basics had been in place, they would not have conceded such a calamitous first goal,” he argued. “Shkodran Mustafi should have dealt with a standard long ball but made a mess of it. It was schoolboy defending.
“The second goal, from a corner, raises questions as to how Arsenal are drilled for set-pieces. For the third, Calum Chambers should have been marking on the side of the ball and on David Silva’s left foot, ready to intercept. He wasn’t and got punished, in a similar fashion to the goal he was responsible for against Östersund.”
Against a side like Manchester City, who are so strong on the counter-attack, and so good at taking advantage of individual mistakes, you can’t gift goals like those three.
At 0-0, there’s always a chance that you can nick a winner, even in a poor attacking performance. City would slowly commit more and more players forwards and at some stage you’ll get a chance like Will Grigg did for Wigan.
As soon as Guardiola’s side establish a lead, they can be more patient. They can pick their moments to attack, and just keep possession, passing the ball around the back until you give them an opening.
Arsenal knew all that going into the game, or they should have done, at least.
To concede such preventable goals anyway is a sign that something is very wrong.