Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will lose the respect of his players unless he drops captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for his poor performances so far this season.
That is the view of Gunners hero Martin Keown, who won three Premier League titles with the club during the tenure of Arsene Wenger between 1998 and 2004.
The former England defender has been left ‘baffled’ by Arteta’s continued faith in Aubameyang, which has been keeping Gabriel Martinelli in a substitute role.
Following the demoralising 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool, Keown has urged the Spaniard to make the change for their Europa League clash against Slavia Prague on Thursday.
Keown told the Mail following the recent defeat: “Arteta has a big decision to make on his captain.
“He set an example by dropping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the north London derby recently. Aubameyang was supposed to start against Spurs but turned up late and was pulled.
“Should Arteta not be dropping him for performing as poorly as he did against Liverpool? If he sticks with him, he risks losing the respect of the group.
“It’s time to bring in 19-year-old Gabriel Martinelli. He is too good to be sitting on the bench. His team-mates see him in training and know what he can do.
“They will be baffled by his continued absence. I know I am.”
Arteta told Sky Sports after Jurgen Klopp’s side ran riot: “We completely deserved to lose the game.
“They were better in every department and deserved to win the game with the margin they had, or even more. I accept responsibility for the way we played today.
“They made the right decisions, we didn’t. It is my fault. I have to set the team up to perform in a different way and that is it.
“Congratulations to Liverpool because they were exceptional today. That showed the difference between the two teams – that when they play at that level, the margin is incredibly high.
“I don’t have to use any excuses – that we don’t have five or six players – the standards are much higher at this football club and I have to get them to perform at that level.
“It was technical as well. We gave every ball away and could not put three passes together.
“The basics weren’t there today. If you do that against this kind of opponent, you get punished like we have. At the moment I am in shock. I didn’t expect that because of the way the team trained. It is a challenge.
“A challenge brings an opportunity. If you have courage and you represent a club like this, you have to stand up and take it.”