Jamie Carragher has lavished praise on two Arsenal stars he feels are still performing well inspite of the Gunners’ struggles.
Defeat at Everton on Saturday leaves the Gunners 15th in the table and without a Premier League win since November 1. That nightmare run of seven games has seen them take just two points.
Mikel Arteta is currently the favourite to become the next Premier League boss to be relieved of his duties. The Spaniard has spoken out on those struggles as a result.
Arteta’s position as Arsenal boss is coming under increasing scrutiny due to the poor run of results. He has received public backing from both chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and technical director Edu over the past 10 days. As such, Arteta has called for fighters, not victims in his ranks to help avoid a relegation battle.
With several of their players also coming in for criticism, Carragher has named two stars who caught his eye in the loss at Goodison.
Indeed, the pundit claimed the performances of Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka down the left were excellent. He praised the pair for their understanding of when to overlap and play the ball forward.
Tierney played as the left-sided centre-back in a three-man central defensive unit, with Saka as a left midfielder.
Indeed, Carragher reckons Saka might now be regarded as Arsenal’s best player. He says the England man impresses him whenever he plays and always looks dangerous.
“Well, these two have been really good down this side,” said Carragher.
“I keep mentioning Tierney and Saka involved again. They are the bright spots for Arsenal.
“Up until now, it’s probably been an underwhelming performance from Arsenal.
“But they have a real connection together. Always looking to find each other. He [Saka] has been Arsenal’s best player.
“Every time he gets the ball it looks as though something is going to happen.
“To think at 19, he looks Arsenal’s best player.”
Arteta stands up for Nicolas Pepe
One player who has received flak recently is club-record signing Nicolas Pepe.
He scored the equaliser from the penalty spot in the loss at Everton. However, he was highlighted for criticism by Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer later in the day.
The Ivory Coast winger has shone in the Europa League this season. And while he continues to flatter to deceive domestically, he retains the backing of Arteta.
“I would always defend my players,” he said.
“Whatever I have to discuss with him, it will be internally. Pepe wants to do his best and help as much as he possibly can. This is what I am interested in. It is my job and if he doesn’t, it is my fault.
“He is trying his best. We all know Nico and sometimes his body language makes him feel bad. He is hurting, he is suffering – believe me, I am close to him – and he is trying his best.
“He feels the responsibility because be knows why the club brought him here and he wants to deliver that.”