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Arsenal’s Europa League exit an ’embarrassment’ as club lurches towards yet another crisis


The ex-defender, now working as a television pundit, said Arsenal looked “lost” as it was dumped out of the competition by the Spanish side on Thursday.

Arsenal had lost the first leg 2-1 and couldn’t break the deadlock in the return fixture which ended 0-0. Its inexperienced squad looked short of ideas and star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has recently recovered from malaria, was a passenger for much of the tie.

“Arsenal looked lost. We couldn’t get out and they made us nervy. We haven’t really laid a glove on them and we haven’t gone down fighting,” Keown said on BT Sport after the match.

To make matters worse, Villarreal is managed by Unai Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal and replaced with Mikel Arteta.

The current boss, who is still learning his trade at the top level, now faces huge scrutiny with the team currently 9th in the Premier League and heading towards a season without European football for the first time since 1996.

“It’s a huge job at this football club. His (Arteta’s) inexperience has perhaps cost him,” added Keown.

“He’s still manager, but it felt this was the rescue package and his players didn’t turn up. He was outsmarted by the previous manager which is a bit of an embarrassment.”

Fellow pundit and former Arsenal player Freddie Ljungberg, who briefly took over as interim boss at the club in 2019, said he hoped Arteta would keep his job but recognized the pressure mounting on those who need to make the decision.

“He’s a young manager and I hope he will stay,” he said on BT Sport. “But, of course, it’s not good enough for Arsenal and it’s up to the owners and other people within the club.”

Pressure on owners

After the game, Arteta — who had been a fan favorite when he first took over in December 2019 — said he was “devastated” by the result but insisted he still thought he was the right man for the job.

“I feel the pressure all the time because I want to do as good as I can for the team, the support that I have and for the fans,” he said after the game.

“I think everybody’s job is under scrutiny.”

It’s yet another chapter in a tumultuous season for Arsenal. Its league form has been woeful at times and there is widespread anger among supporters about the club’s owner, Stan Kroenke.

The American has been accused of not investing enough money into the squad and, ultimately, for not caring about the team’s performances on the pitch.

His decision to sign Arsenal up to the hugely controversial Super League also caused fans to protest outside the stadium.

Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek has publicly announced his desire to buy Arsenal, insisting he wants to take his favorite club back to glory.



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