Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal star Paul Merson has blasted Unai Emery and the Gunners defenders after their draw at Watford on Sunday.
The visitors looked comfortable in the first half as they took a 2-0 lead and appeared set to secure all three points at Vicarage Road.
However, they eventually ended up dropping two points as their defensive frailties were exposed leaving them open to criticism from pundits like Merson.
The former Gunners ace was particularly scathing of Emery and some of the players in the side, as he was highly frustrated with the way in which they threw the game away and found themselves in a position where they were hanging on for a point.
It seems as though the defenders were specifically in line for criticism along with the manager, having made a mistake and been caught out to give Watford a path back into the encounter.
“I’ve got to put it on the manager,” he wrote in his Sky Sports column. “People will say there were experienced players on the pitch, but he’s the manager and they’re paid to listen to him. You can’t have a manager give instructions on how to play and then they go out and do their own thing. There would be mutiny, so they’re listening to him and he’s not getting it right.
“Sometimes these players think they’re something special and won’t be closed down – it’s pathetic. To get Sokratis to play out from the back… the lad can’t play. He’s not David Luiz. He can pass, he’s comfortable on the ball. No way can Sokratis play the same way. They need to play three at the back as they’re not good enough to play a four. They let in too many goals and make too many mistakes.”
Time will tell if Emery is forced to make tweaks to the way in which Arsenal play and set up defensively, or if the Spanish tactician sticks to his principles and continues the same way and hopes that his players improve.
Arsenal’s defensive vulnerabilities are nothing new though as it was a problem that haunted them last season after conceding 51 goals in 38 Premier League games, giving them the second worst defensive record of the top nine sides in the standings.
They’ll be hoping that the return from injury of Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney will help Emery shore things up at the back in the coming weeks, but Merson isn’t impressed with what he saw on Sunday and and it’s the Arsenal boss himself and Sokratis who appear to have got the brunt of his frustration.