‘It’s nowhere near the club it once was… they have Eden Hazard and we had Mesut Ozil’: Martin Keown bemoans Arsenal’s fall from grace after embarrassing Europa League final defeat by Chelsea
Martin Keown fears for Arsenal’s chances of securing a Champions League return in the near future following their heavy defeat by Chelsea in the final of the Europa League.
Despite a positive first-half performance, the Gunners slumped to a 4-1 loss after half-time as Chelsea ran riot Baku.
It means the north London side miss out on Europe’s premier club competition next term and confines them to another season in the Europa League.
Unai Emery looks on after collecting his runners-up medal in front of his Arsenal players
Former Gunner Martin Keown believes that Arsenal have shown a huge decline of late
But former Gunners defender Keown fears the defeat is another sign of the club’s decline and leaves them with little hope of building for a top four finish in the Premier League next term.
‘[It was] a system failure for Arsenal,’ he told BT Sport. ‘[Chelsea were] too good for Arsenal tonight. It really magnifies the decline of Arsenal football club. It’s nowhere near the club it once was.
‘Whether it was [Arsene] Wenger was there too long. Recruitment is what it has to be, and I don’t know if the budget is there to bring Arsenal into the top four next season.
The Gunners missed out on Champions League football next term after losing the Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea at the Olympic Stadium in Baku
‘You mention about keeping the players. Aubameyang and Lacazette, it won’t be easy to hold onto those players. It severely dents the budget. Maybe £40million worse off.
‘He’s [Unai Emery] put a lot of work into this, tried to wring out intensity. The judgement of players, the type of player that’s been bought has been more technical, and the, toughness, steeliness doesn’t seem to be there.
‘They conceded 51 goals last year, 51 this year, it’s the same group of players, so a major change is needed. Where’s the money gonna go from? Is the owner gonna put his own money in for once?
Keown blamed Mesut Ozil (above) for struggling to get Arsenal’s strikers into the game
‘I think Emery is the right manager but he needs to be supported. He is a good coach and he has got desire. Unfortunately he has got more desire than a lot of his players.’
While Eden Hazard scored twice to live up to his billing as Chelsea’s star man, Arsenal were seen to be left wanting with their key playmaker, Mesut Ozil.
The German struggled to influence the match before being hauled off after 76 minutes and Keown believes he did not do enough to get Arsenal’s strikers into the game.
Ozil trudged off the field following a largely anonymous performance after 76 minutes
‘Tonight it must’ve felt like the garden of Eden,’ he added. ‘He was so fully of talent and quality. The club’s fallen from a huge height. They have Hazard, we had Ozil. He couldn’t get Aubameyang or Lacazette in the game. They had too much for Arsenal.
‘Ozil is your biggest player, and he cannot play away from home. Half the games he’s not available for. Something’s gotta give there.
‘He needs to be with better players in a possession based team, because out of possession he’s not doing enough. He might think he is, but he isn’t.
‘I feel for the fans that made the journey. It did become disappointing and embarrassing in the end.’