‘This is the lowest point for years… Arsenal didn’t even go down fighting and look lost’: Martin Keown savages Gunners after pitiful Europa League exit with Mikel Arteta ‘outsmarted’ by old boss Unai Emery
- The result effectively ends Arsenal’s chances of playing in Europe next season
- It will be their first campaign without European competition since 1996-1997
- Iconic former defender Keown questioned manager Arteta’s future at the club
- The fact the loss came at the hands of Emery will sting for the North London side
Martin Keown has slammed his former side Arsenal after a meek Europa League exit at the hands of Unai Emery’s Villarreal at the Emirates on Thursday which will likely end their 25-season run of playing in Europe.
Mikel Arteta’s side, trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Spain last week, began tentatively and although striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post twice, the Gunners only had two shots on target all match at the Emirates.
The result – their third European semi-final exit in their last four attempts – also marked the 10th time they have failed to score at home in a single season for the first time in their history.
Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League in the semi-final by Unai Emery’s Villarreal
The Gunners drew 0-0 and exited 2-1 on aggregate at the hands of their former boss Emery
Iconic former defender Martin Keown savaged Mikel Arteta’s side for their poor performance
After the match iconic former defender Keown stated what was missing from the Arsenal performance against the Spanish team, managed by Emery, who was sacked by the club before Arteta’s eventual appointment.
He said: ‘Form in both ties. Villarreal, they controlled events, controlled the tactics. Emery was just too smart for Arteta. But it’s hugely disappointing for Arsenal, they were nervous, tentative and the performance wasn’t there.
‘We shouldn’t be surprised, they’re ninth in the table. 19 goals from 17 home matches, it’s been a rollercoaster season. Inconsistency is rife through this group and it’s cost (Arsenal) tonight. Villarreal didn’t need to get out of first gear.
Emery watched Villarreal squeeze past Arsenal in their Europa League semi-final second leg
Emery had a turbulent spell in charge of the Gunners before being sacked in November 2019
The fact it was their former employee who knocked them out will sting for the North Londoners
‘Aubameyang has two opportunities, hits the post but so few opportunities were created for him tonight. Oh it does (feel like a low point). Without a doubt. The way the club has been, unbeaten all season 16-17 years ago, and now not making Europe.
‘It’s a fall from grace. I know we’re talking about new owners, a change of manager, there’s a crossroads at the club. It’s the lowest point I can remember in a number of years.’
There were chances for Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe, who fired second-shots wide, but bright sparks in attack were few in far between.
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post twice against the Spanish outfit
More disappointingly, the exit effectively ends Arsenal’s chances of qualifying for European competition, shortly after the club were controversially prepared to join the closed-shop European Super League.
The result calls into question Arsenal’s suitability for such a rebel competition, involving 12 of the biggest and best sides in Europe, and Keown suggested Arteta’s future was in question too.
He added: ‘The manager comes under enormous pressure, you start to look at the wisdom of a young manager coming in to take a job here. It’s a huge job, massive job at this football club. His inexperience has cost him, he’s still here – we have to see what is done about that.
Gunners legend Freddie Ljungberg also weighed in on the side’s performance at the Emirates
‘The team didn’t turn up. We allowed them to play and be comfortable, we haven’t laid a glove on them. We haven’t gone down fighting. If this stadium was full… It was disappointing, hardly any reaction from the team. It comes from the manager. You have to ask questions.’
Fellow Gunners legend Freddie Ljungberg, part of the 2003-04 Invincibles side, concluded: ‘I’m a bit in shock unfortunately. I thought Arsenal would definitely go through. Win at the Emirates and put pressure on. There was no pressure really and Villarreal was the better team in both legs.
‘It’s an emotional evening. It’s reality. We are far behind in the league and out of Europe. So a lot of people are asking questions after this and feeling very low. There are a lot of young players in this squad, we need to look after them to they’re not scarred but it’s tough today.’