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‘Willian looks like he is on holiday at Arsenal’ – Pepe & Ozil are also ‘problems’ for Arteta, says Keown

6:57 PM MYT 15/12/2020
Willian Arsenal
The former Gunners defender fears the mood at Emirates Stadium could turn “toxic” as players are frozen out and results continue to slide

Willian looks like “he is on holiday at Arsenal”, says Martin Keown, while Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil are also considered to be problems for Mikel Arteta as the atmosphere at Emirates Stadium threatens to turn “toxic”.

The Gunners have stumbled out of the blocks in 2020-21 and made their worst start to a season since 1974-75.

Pressure is building on Mikel Arteta as a result, with the Spaniard facing some uncomfortable questions just a year into his tenure and a matter of months after overseeing FA Cup and Community Shield triumphs.

Arsenal are being let down by a number of underperforming senior stars, while little value has been found in recent transfer deals.

Keown admits that something needs to be done in north London, with the Gunners in danger of seeing their 2020-21 campaign implode.

The former defender told the Daily Mail: “I admired Willian at Chelsea but it is like he is on holiday at Arsenal. The first thing I would do is play him on the left where he was a success at Chelsea. And play Bukayo Saka on the right where he looks more effective.

“Against Burnley, Arsenal were trying to play out from the back but the players looked so uncomfortable. It looked hazardous and Burnley sensed they would get a chance from an error.

“Arsenal play Southampton on Wednesday and their high-press, high-energy forwards will be relishing the thought of the Gunners playing out from the back.

“This is a tough time for a rookie manager but Arteta has to be strong and show real leadership, show some fire and spark.

“The problems behind the scenes do not help. With players like Mesut Ozil, Sokratis and William Saliba frozen out, it feels it could become toxic as results slide and fingers are pointed.

“Some of these problems Arteta inherited. Close to £100million was spent on Pepe and Saliba, who has not played. The £72m for Pepe is alarming when you have Saka, one of the best young players we've seen in years, coming through.

“And then there is Ozil. If Arsenal stick with 4-2-1-3 the German could come back into the picture. He can be the No.10 that Arsenal are missing to provide some creativity.

“At the moment Arteta is asking Alexandre Lacazette to play that role but that is not the future for the Frenchman. He does not work back and tackle any more than Ozil did.”