Martin Keown has questioned the steeliness and determination of the current Arsenal players after their spineless 2-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday.

Keown has compared the current Arsenal side to the one he featured in during his time with the Gunners in the late 1990s and questioned whether this lot actually have the right DNA to be at the club.

“It would have been the other way round,” Keown said regarding Troy Deeney’s claims that Arsenal don’t have the ‘cojones’ to deal with physicality. “We would have said ‘let’s let him have it a bit because he’s going to let us have it.’ You have to have that about you.

“It seriously makes me look at the DNA of the Arsenal players and in the recruitment, has that got to change? There needs to be more of a steeliness and a determination.

“We’ve got the saga of the two players [Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both have contracts that expire at the end of the season]. Are they leaving or are they staying? And it’s just draining on the group. Ozil came off the bench and had a great opportunity to score. Where was the killer instinct?

“Maybe he looks at the Ozils and thinks ‘I can get on here and do something’. If that type of player wasn’t there then he wouldn’t even have that in his head to come on and exploit that weakness. 

“The way they capitulated when it went to 1-1 was alarming. When your opponent is telling you your weaknesses it’s damning.”

Keown was in Arsene Wenger’s 1997/98 side that won the Double. The former centre-back played alongside the likes of Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Ray Parlour, Patrick Vieira and Nigel Winterburn. All players that would give everything, not just because they wanted to win but because they gave a damn about the reputation of the club. They cared.

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30 Sep 1998: Martin Keown of Arsenal is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League match against Panathinaikos played at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The match finished in a 2-1 victory for Arsenal. (Shaun Botterill /Allsport)

When you watch this current Wenger side play, there aren’t many – if any – players who actually look as if they want to go out there and have a go. And other teams know it.

If Troy Deeney finds it easy to play against us, then we have issues.

This isn’t new though. For a few seasons now, other teams and their managers have understood that if you put any sort of pressure on us or press us at all, we’ll crumble. We look gutless and the Premier League has no mercy. If they have an opportunity to win three points against Arsenal, they will.