Robin van Persie has blasted Arsenal boss Unai Emery for failing to connect with his players, adding that their struggles at set pieces is the team’s weakest link.
Arsenal made it three wins out of three in the Europa League group stages courtesy of a 3-2 win over Vitoria on Thursday, but the Portuguese outfit were the better side for much of the game.
The visitors led twice before half-time to make it 2-1 before substitute Nicolas Pepe netted a brace of free kicks inside the final 13 minutes to earn the Gunners all three points.
Speaking on BT Sport after the match, former Arsenal striker Van Persie suggested things hadn’t changed since he left the club in 2012.
“I don’t think that Emery really connects with his players,” the Dutchman said. “I think they are still weak on set pieces, which was a problem at my time, to be honest.
“But everyone should feel responsible. Arsenal lose 12 to 15 points per season by set pieces. That should stop. If you want to play for the first couple of places you have to sort it out, you have to find a way.
“As a player you want to have that feeling, you have to sprint back, now I see a couple of players jogging back, and there’s danger there. I don’t feel that in the team.
“If you have a very strong coach, and you are in midfield and you see danger somewhere, you sprint for your life, because you know if you don’t do it you get punished.”
Van Persie also suggested that communication problems between Emery and his players may be at fault for their mixed performances so far this campaign.
“I’ve had [Arsene] Wenger, Louis van Gaal, [Alex] Ferguson, I had so many coaches, and their main quality was to be clear,” the 36-year-old added.
“If I’m really honest…someone sent me a video last week of [Emery] trying to explain something, and I couldn’t really figure out if he was saying, ‘calm, calm’ or ‘come, come.’
“That is very important, you have to be clear, you have to be the leader and the leader needs to be clear towards his players.”
Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday when they host Crystal Palace at the Emirates.