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'Any goalkeeper would struggle behind Arsenal's defence' - Nicholas brands Gunners 'an absolute mess'

09:20 BST 25/06/2020
Emiliano Martinez, Arsenal
The club's former forward has been left less than impressed by recent showings, with Alexandre Lacazette among those urged to raise their game

Any goalkeeper in the world would struggle when working behind Arsenal’s back four, says Charlie Nicholas, while Alexandre Lacazette is among those considered to be “not doing enough” at the opposite end of the field.

The Gunners have endured a humbling return to Premier League action on the back of a coronavirus-enforced break, with back-to-back defeats suffered against Manchester City and Brighton.

Any hopes the north London giants had of forcing their way into top-four contention appear to have been dashed as they now sit 11 points off the pace.

Mikel Arteta’s side have slipped into 10th spot in the table, with Europa League qualification and a challenge for FA Cup glory now representing the height of their ambition.

Familiar issues continue to hamper Arsenal’s plans, despite initial progress being made under a new coach, with defensive leaks failing to be plugged.

That cause has been done few favours by an untimely injury suffered by first-choice keeper Bernd Leno, with Emiliano Martinez having to step in.

Nicholas feels for the Argentine shot-stopper, with the Gunners struggling for inspiration across the board at present.

The former Arsenal forward told Sky Sports as Arteta readies his side for a meeting with Southampton on Thursday: “I thought Emiliano Martinez did well when he came on [against Brighton], but tell me any goalkeeper who could play behind this back four? They are left so exposed.

“Martinez slightly got it wrong for the last goal but did not play badly at all. I cannot work out where a result is coming from for Arsenal at the minute.

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked more lively, and I do like Alexandre Lacazette but he was out of sorts. He has to earn the right to play and he is not doing enough.

“Nicolas Pepe scored a great goal but is not doing enough either. Eddie Nketiah will probably get a nod again and I do not have a problem with that.

“How do you work it out for Arsenal? The defence is poor - Mikel Arteta left Kieran Tierney out, but he does need games to get fit. He needs games to get confidence, but how do you get that in this defence? He has been brought into this.

“I do not know what his midfield selection is. Matteo Guendouzi is a talent but he needs experience with him, while Dani Ceballos is good on the ball but not without it, and we are in an absolute mess at the minute.

“We do not usually get something at Southampton and the top four is long gone, but I would be grateful for yet another draw, just to get a point on the board.”