Martin Keown hails Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli and slams ‘lucky’ Freddie Ljungberg

Arsenal interim manager Freddie Ljungberg shouts at his players from the touchline
Ljungberg made nine changes for the game against Standard (Picture: Reuters)

Martin Keown blasted ‘lucky’ Freddie Ljungberg and hailed Gabriel Martinelli as a true leader for Arsenal following their 2-2 draw with Standard Liege in the Europa League.

Arsenal qualified for the last-32 of the competition thanks to the draw, but were losing the game 2-0 before Martinelli entered the fray in the 69th minute.

Martinelli, who scored on his full Premier League debut on Monday, sparked a fight-back from Arsenal and set up Bukayo Saka to score the equaliser.

Keown was dismayed by Arsenal’s desire in the game and slammed Ljungberg for making so many changes.

‘One thing you need when you’re a manager is luck and Freddie Ljungberg was very lucky tonight,’ Keown said on BT Sport.

‘The game changed when Martinelli came off the bench tonight. 69th minute, a young player, a desire and a work-rate you’d except from the senior players.’

‘I didn’t see a role model in that team. He came on and changed it,’ he continued.

‘The older players were a long time getting to that level for Arsenal.

‘I think Freddie Ljungberg should have kept it simple. He should have played a back four, pretty much the same team he played the other night.

‘There was too many changes. We need to get back the desire and hunger from the players.

Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli protects the ball from Standard's Collins Fai during a game
Martinelli’s introduction from the bench changed things for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

‘And while Freddie is in charge, he should be implementing that change at Arsenal.’

Ljungberg fielded a young side, making nine changes from the side that beat West Ham at the start of the week.

The interim coach also reverted to a back three against Standard and Keown was bemused by Ljungberg’s decision-making.

‘I was so disappointed with the lack of desire and hunger from the team. Keep it simple,’ he said.

Bukayo Saka celebrates with his Arsenal team-mates after scoring
Saka rescued a draw for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

‘As a young coach I wouldn’t have even bothered going to a back three. I wouldn’t have been certain I understood it well enough.

‘I would have picked the same players to say “when you work with me you work hard, you’re not staying back home relaxing, this is now about work ethic”. There needs to be a change in mood.

‘That’s gone from Freddie, he’s limped through tonight. You can’t turn a tap on and off so quickly. But they’re going to be seeded, so that’s really good news.’

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