Martin Keown says Villarreal boss Unai Emery was ‘too smart’ for Mikel Arteta after Arsenal’s Europa League exit

Martin Keown criticised Mikel Arteta and Arsenal after their Europa League defeat
Martin Keown criticised Mikel Arteta and Arsenal after their Europa League defeat (Pictures: Getty/BT Sport)

Martin Keown says Villarreal boss Unai Emery was ‘too smart’ for Mikel Arteta after Arsenal’s demoralising Europa League semi-final defeat.

The Gunners slipped to a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Spanish outfit Villarreal, failing to reach the Europa League final and missing the chance to salvage their disappointing season.

Arsenal lost the first leg 2-1 and were unable to break Villarreal down at the Emirates on Thursday night, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming closest when he hit the post with a second-half header.

Keown says it was Arsenal’s ‘lowest night for many years’, particularly as Gunners boss Arteta was ‘outsmarted’ by the man he replaced less than two years ago.

‘Villareal controlled the game, controlled the tactics. Emery was too smart for Arteta,’ Keown told BT Sport.

‘You have to give them credit but the performance just wasn’t there from Arsenal, we shouldn’t really be surprised when you look at their position in the Premier League.

‘The inconsistency through the group is rife. Villarreal haven’t had to leave first gear to manage Arsenal.

‘This is a real fall from grace. Are we now talking about a new manager? It’s a crossroad for the club. It’s the lowest night I can remember for the club for many years.

‘I think the manager comes under enormous pressure. You start to look now at the wisdom of bringing in a young manager for this huge job.

‘It seemed to me that this was the rescue package for the club tonight but the team didn’t turn up.

‘Unfortunately, Arteta was outsmarted by the previous manager which is a bit of an embarrassment.’

Arsenal were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Spanish side Villarreal
Arsenal were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Spanish side Villarreal (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal are just ninth in the Premier League with four matches remaining and club legend Lee Dixon also bemoaned the team’s underwhelming display against Villarreal.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘As an Arsenal fan you hope the season would change tonight and they’d put a performance in they can be proud of but in the back of your mind you think about performances that have gone before and you think, “I don’t trust this team”.

‘You think well they can’t play as bad as they did in the first leg, well they’ve outdone themselves, because they did. They’ve gone out with a whimper tonight.

‘Every one of those players should look at their performance and ask themselves whether they did enough, and if they’re honest with themselves the answer will be no. I hope they’re in that changing room hurting, but I’m not sure if they are.’

Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

No comments