Martin Keown: "Arsenal players need someone to punch them in the face"
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg

Martin Keown during Europa League Round of 32 2nd Leg between Arsenal and Olympiakos at Emirates stadium , London, England on 27 February 2020. (Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The opening goal didn’t come until the 86th minute after a triple substitution from Mikel Arteta saw Arsenal take the lead through Nicolas Pepe.

Arsenal were wasteful throughout and missed countless opportunities to put the game to bed.

The North London outfit found themselves unable to defend an injury time corner which saw the visitors equalise through Tomas Holes and Slavia Prague claim a vital away goal in the UEFA Europa League.

Arsenal legend Keown didn’t hold back with his post match analysis and punditry after the Gunners’ cagey first half performance before a much improved display after the break. 

The pundit claimed it was as if the players needed to be woken up in order to start playing.

'For me it was about Arsenal tonight and the way they played. By sitting off they chose the wrong tactics,' Keown told BT Sport.

'There was an opportunity to take the initiative and ask questions, can you play? But they were allowed to settle and build from the back. 

'In the first-half it became nervy and they weren't the team we saw just a few weeks ago against West Ham for instance.

'It seems like Arsenal are not proactive in games, they need someone to slap them or punch them in the face before they wake up and start to play.

'He (Arteta) did it in the second-half with the substitutions but they couldn't see it through.'

  • On the Manager

Keown also added how the Arsenal boss found it difficult to gain any reaction from his players before criticising all of the ‘sloppy mistakes’ which led to Slavia's equaliser. 

'It’s (the result) hugely disappointing, it's going to be difficult now for Arteta. He's made a lot of changes within the club, a lot of people have been allowed to go.

'There's been a lot of problems for Arsenal across a number of years with players coming in and out. 

'He's in charge now and he's not quite getting the reaction from the team. They're making sloppy mistakes and it cost them.

'We expected them to do their talking on the pitch. It's the same old story, Arsenal giving away goals. It's a disastrous result but it's not the end.'

Arsenal’s European fate will be decided next Thursday as the Gunners' travel to Prague for the second leg of the quarter-final.