Arsenal legend Martin Keown has claimed that Mikel Arteta was ruthless with Albert Sambi Lokonga and Rob Holding after their mistakes against PSV yesterday.
The Gunners suffered a disappointing defeat at Eindhoven. It was only their second loss in all competitions this season, but it was undoubtedly their worst performance yet.
Lokonga and Holding, in particular, had an evening to forget.
Martin Keown says Arsenal’s Albert Sambi Lokonga just switched off vs PSV yesterday
The Gunners were really poor from start to finish against PSV. They deserved nothing from the game, but it has to be said that they could’ve avoided the two goals that they conceded.
Looking back at PSV’s first goal, Keown, who knows a thing or two about defending, claimed that Holding wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He wanted the Arsenal number 16 to come across, but he didn’t.
Lokonga too was criticised for the initial pass. Keown claims he completely switched off after that and just didn’t try hard enough to get back and block the shot.
Lokonga was substituted immediately after the goal and Holding faced the same fate right after PSV doubled their lead. Keown felt Arteta’s decision to bring the two players off was ‘ruthless’.
The pundit said on BT Sport after the game, as quoted by The Metro: “Looking at Rob Holding there [for the first goal], you’ve got to stay goal-side. A big man has come on [De Jong], so Holding’s got to come across.
“Lokonga could do more with the initial ball and then he just switches off. He’s got to be breaking every sinew in his body to get back there and get a block in but he doesn’t.
“Arteta was pretty ruthless because both players were hooked soon after. It’s a tough school there.”
Arteta has shown on numerous occasions that he is ruthless, and that’s exactly how a manager should be. The substitutions last night had to be made, but sadly for him, it didn’t help Arsenal get back into the game.
Lokonga and Holding are both good squad players, but neither are on the same level as Arsenal’s regular starters. That is a big concern for Arteta going forward, as the drop in level is massive.
The Gunners boss will revert to his first-choice XI for the game against Nottingham Forest at the weekend. That team has shown for most of this season that they’re incredible, and Arteta will be hoping for the same on Sunday.
As for Lokonga, it will be interesting to see if he gets more opportunities in the coming months. The 23-year-old has looked really poor this season, and last night’s performance definitely made things worse.