‘Weak’, ‘insipid’ and ‘unacceptable’ – three words that Arsene Wenger would find it difficult to argue against after his Arsenal team were beaten 3-2 at Manchester United on Sunday.
Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness was scathing in his criticism of Arsenal’s performance, saying their display ‘bordered on a joke’ and questioning their title credentials.
Having lost 2-0 at home to Barcelona in the Champions League earlier in the week, Souness claimed their season could be over with by the middle of March.
Wenger’s side now trail Leicester City by five points in the Premier League, and with Saturday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur looming large Souness says the Gunners need to turn things around quickly.
“Man Utd deserved to win the game,” Souness said. “They were better at the front and the back – the areas that matter.”
“It was tippy-tappy football from Arsenal – they had 60 per cent of possession but were going nowhere. Arsenal today bordered on being a joke for me.
“You turn up here, you’re playing a Manchester United side struggling with injuries, introducing young players, low on confidence and you’re thinking it’s tailored-made for a proper team to come here and do a number on an under-strength Man Utd and they didn’t.”
“This is an Arsenal team you were saying a month ago was a real team. They’ve got to play Tottenham, Barcelona – by March 16 they could be out of all competitions. Arsene Wenger must be tearing his hair out.”
Marcus Rashford followed up his two-goal display against Midtjylland in the Europa League with another couple on his Premier League debut for United, leaving Souness baffled at Arsenal’s lack of leadership.
“This Arsenal team just doesn’t have ‘it’ – and I’ll stand on my head if they prove me wrong and go and win this league – that today was totally unacceptable,” Souness added.
“Is it a case of big players going off the boil? Big players make other players play when things are going badly. Who did that today for Arsenal? Where’s a Tony Adams? Where’s a Thierry (Henry)? It worries me that Arsene continually talks about his team being mentally tough – it’s almost as if he’s trying to persuade them. They’re vulnerable. They don’t look like a confident group.”
“They had a chance to put down a real marker today and they’ve been so weak, so insipid. If I were an Arsenal supporter I’d be so angry right now. There’s so much about Arsenal to like but – in equal measure – so much to dislike.”
Leonardo Ulloa’s 89th-minute goal against Norwich City had kept Leicester top of the league on Saturday, while Tottenham dug deep on Sunday at home to Swansea City to come from behind for a 2-1 victory.
Barcelona equalled a Spanish record of 34 games unbeaten in all competitions with a 2-1 La Liga win over Sevilla, leaving Arsenal facing a big couple of weeks as they bid to keep their season alive.
Wenger’s team host Swansea on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s derby against Tottenham, before travelling to in-form Hull City on March 8 for their FA Cup fifth round replay.
West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to the Emirates in the Premier League on March 12, with the Gunners facing the daunting Champions League trip to Barca four days later.