Premier League • England

Roy Keane destroys Arsenal man by lamenting his lack of quality as major fears for Mikel Arteta are revealed

ITV pundit Roy Keane

Roy Keane has taken one Arsenal star to task following their FA Cup exit at Manchester City, suggesting the player is not of the standard the Gunners need at the very top level.

Mikel Arteta’s side are sitting five points clear at the top of the Premier League and with a game in hand over nearest challengers Manchester City. But they know they can afford precious fee slip-ups in the race to end their 19-year wait to become champions.

So when the two sides were drawn together in a titanic FA Cup fourth-round tussle, both sides were expected to make changes. As it went, both sent out very strong sides and it was Arsenal who carved out the better first-half openings.

But with both sides level at the break, Arsenal decided to make some changes with William Saliba replacing Rob Holding and Albert Sambi Lokonga coming on for Thomas Partey.

The Ghanaian has been one of Arsenal’s top performers this season, alongside Granit Xhaka in midfield. But Arteta knows his squad lacks quality cover and competition for the pair should injury strike down either.

It is for that reason why Arsenal are going all out to sign Brighton’s Moises Caicedo in the final days of the window. The Gunners have already seen a £60m offer for Caicedo rejected but will likely come again to try and secure his signing.

And their chances of sealing the deal are growing after the midfielder made clear his wish to leave.

In the meantime, Arsenal must perservere with Lokonga.

The Belgian has had few chances to impress this season after arriving in a £17.2m fee from Anderlecht in summer 2021.

Roy Keane unimpressed by Arsenal star Lokonga

But after replacing Partey for the second half, Keane was left unimpressed by his role in City’s winner.

His fellow pundit Ian Wright, though, did have some sympathy, saying on ITV : “It felt like that, but you see with someone like Sambi, he needs to be playing, he needs minutes. He needs to be able to understand and be more wary of where he is and what he needs to do, where he needs to be. You’ve got to try and sense that danger and that’s why he needs minutes in games of this quality, because that’s where you’ll learn.”

Keane though quickly voiced his fears. He added: “But at this stage, at that level, they’ve already learnt that part of the game. It’s a big concern.”

The pundit was also left unimpressed by Arsenal’s performance.

“They’ve set such high standards over the last few months,” Keane stated. “I thought we’d get more from Arsenal tonight, I’m disappointed.

“We saw the experience of the last few years, how to win games. One lapse from Arsenal and they were punished.

“They had to react, they were going out the cup,” the former Irish international continued. ‘We were expecting a bit more, but they showed glimpses.

“Brilliant defending, a little bit of luck, but you need more than that to beat Man City.”

READ MORE: Four Arsenal stars in need of an upgrade 

Keane questions strength of Gunners squad

That winning goal, scored by Nathan Ake, sent Guardiola’s side into the FA Cup fifth round.

It leaves Arsenal with just two competitions to focus on: the Europa League and the Premier League.

Keane, though, fears the defeat exposed a brutal lack of quality in Arsenal’s squad this season. Seven of their regular starting XI are ever-presents in the Premier League this season. And Keane fears a lack of quality cover may prove their undoing in the title race.

He also feels the decisions made by Arteta will have sent a negative message to the players.

“When you get beaten in a football match you’re going to feel that way. The players are going to be down for the next few days, I know they’ll recover. And if Arsenal want to win the league they’ll say listen, we had to sacrifice this game.

“When you make that many changes – particularly defensively – you’re sending a message. It’s saying we’re kind of not that bothered, which is not a good message to send.”

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