Former Arsenal manager George Graham has blasted his old club in the aftermath of their opening day defeat of the new Barclays Premier League season against London rivals West Ham United on Sunday afternoon.
The Gunners are seen by many as genuine title challengers this year after a strong end to the 2014-15 campaign and the retention of the FA Cup back in May, however they got off to the worse possible start with a shock 2-0 defeat against the Hammers at the Emirates Stadium.
Debutant Petr Cech was at fault for both goals, but ex-boss Graham says the whole team was to blame for such a poor performance and questioned if the squad has any leaders after a number of their key players went missing in the London derby:
“I was really disappointed and very surprised by Arsenal,” the he told talkSPORT.
“Their pre-season form had been excellent and I thought, ‘right, let’s go at West Ham.’ But it amazed me that after the first 20 minutes, both sides had 50 per cent possession – when does an away team come to the Emirates and get that sort of possession? Very, very rarely.”
“I was really surprised Arsenal didn’t press the ball and put West Ham under pressure, and maybe that just shows you the lack of leadership at the club.”
“Arsenal have some brilliant players, but Ozil was very quiet – you never really saw him – and Santi Cazorla was on the left wing in the first half and he doesn’t like laying there.”
“You’re looking for your big names, your big players, to perform, and they didn’t do that yesterday,” Graham added.
The Gunners have the chance to respond to the setback as they face Crystal Palace this weekend and will be hopeful of a repeat performance from the corresponding fixture last season, where they were 2-1 winners at Selhurst Park thanks to first-half goals from Cazorla and Olivier Giroud.
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