Ian Wright has strongly condemned Unai Emery’s team selections at Bramall Lane as Sheffield United inflicted a 1-0 defeat on Arsenal in Monday Night Football.
With Mesut Ozil clearly some way down the Arsenal pecking order and not in the Spaniard’s plans, Wright felt it was a huge mistake keeping creative midfielder Dani Ceballos on the bench – and also questioned his decision to play some of the youngsters in what was always going to be a difficult game.
The Gunners slipped to a 1-0 defeat, leaving Emery questioning the officials, while their performance also drew a stinging criticism from Patrice Evra who labelled them “my babies” in the Sky Sports studios.
But perhaps the biggest criticism came from former Gunners striker Wright, who admitted Emery’s team selections left him scratching his head.
“I think he’s got to come here and Ceballos has to play. He’s played the youngsters and I’m pleased to see them in there, with [Bukayo] Saka,” Wright told Premier League Productions. “But Saka, for an 18-year-old, if you’re leaving Ozil totally out of the squad, then we have to see more from him [Saka], we have to see more from Joe [Willock].
“Unfortunately, it was a game where it passed them both by and then it comes down to the manager and his choices.
“He’s made the change at half-time, with Ceballos, so you’re thinking to yourself: “Why didn’t you start him in the first place?”
“Start him. He’s someone that gets on the ball when they want to try and play out, [Matteo] Guendouzi’s got a lot of energy and get the boys playing.
“[Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang didn’t have anything to play off today because there wasn’t any creativity.”
Ceballos, who came on at half-time for Willock and did help Arsenal put in an improved second-half display, earned some praise from Wright for his efforts after the restart.
Asked if he made a difference when coming on, Wright answered: “Yeah, because he wants to try and get on the ball and he doesn’t mind getting on the ball anywhere to try and do his stuff.
“It’s a disappointing one simply because Arsenal could have gone third.
“It’s the kind of game where they can lay down a marker and they don’t and it’s unfortunate.”