Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown says Mikel Arteta is under huge pressure and believes the Europa League semi-final defeat to Villarreal will be “embarrassing” for the club’s owners.
Arsenal lost 2-1 on aggregate to their LaLiga rivals and former boss Unai Emery after drawing 0-0 at The Emirates on Thursday night. Despite hitting the post via Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s header Arteta’s men never looked like winning. The Gunners created very little in a game in which Arteta had said he was confident they could “take their biggest step forward”.
Just where that leaves Arteta is unclear, but with Arsenal ninth and way off the top-four place in the Premier League, his future looks at best unclear.
There have been suggestions from Italian website TuttoMercatoWeb that the Arsenal hierarchy are “not happy with Arteta”.
While earlier this month The Sun, had an exclusive which revealed “growing resentment from players” with the Gunners boss.
It was the first time really the spotlight had fallen on the Spanish boss after arriving 15 months ago.
Discussing Arteta’s future Keown told BT Sport: “Well that decision needs to be made. He’s a young manager.
“Emery was here himself and was sacked also. Maybe he lost the players also. So it’s not a given that you’re going to be successful even though you come with a big reputation.
“If you think about last season, they played predominantly with a back five, they did very well to win an FA Cup with that system. There’s been too much chopping and changing this year.
“It didn’t work in this tie and that’s where he was outsmarted by the previous manager – and that’s where it becomes embarrassing for the club, for the owners.
“Then the spotlight comes on his position. That’s it, you’ve got to be a quick learner as a manager. I’m not saying he’s not going to stay in the job, that decision is one that will be made through the summer, but we know it’s going to have to be an incredible start to the season next year if he stays in the job. He’s under huge pressure now.”
Ljungberg in shock
Former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg was “shocked” by Arsenal’s defeat.
“I’m a bit in shock unfortunately. I thought Arsenal would definitely go through,” said the former Arsenal caretaker boss. “The whole game there was no pressure really, Villarreal were the better team in both legs.
“It’s an emotional evening but it’s the reality for Arsenal. We are far behind in the league and now out of Europe.”
Asked whether Arteta still has the support of Arsenal fans, Ljungberg added: “There’s no fans here so that’s difficult to know. I hope he does.
“I’m not going to stand here and say managers should stay or go. Listen, he’s a young manager and I hope he will stay. But of course it’s not good enough for Arsenal football club and it’s up to the owners and other people within the football club.”