Martin Keown says Mikel Arteta must drop two Arsenal players after Man City loss

Martin Keown has urged Mikel Arteta to replace Nicolas Pepe and Martin Odegaard with Emile Smith Rowe and Alexandre Lacazette in his Arsenal starting line-up.

The Gunners slumped to their 11th defeat of the season at home to Manchester City on Sunday, with Raheem Sterling’s second-minute header proving the only goal of the game.

Arteta made the controversial decision to leave Smith Rowe, who has been in fine form of late, out of his starting XI at the Emirates, while Lacazette also had to settle for a place on the bench.

Instead, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang led the line just in front of Odegaard, who was sandwiched by wingers Pepe and Bukayo Saka in the No.10 slot.

However, Keown believes Smith Rowe and Lacazette make up Arsenal’s best front four along with Aubameyang and Saka.

“A manager can talk tactics with his players until he’s blue in the face, but Manchester City’s goal came about because the basics weren’t followed,” the Gunners legend wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

“Rob Holding didn’t pick up Raheem Sterling and the 5ft 7in winger scored a winning header with two minutes on the clock.

“It surprised me that Arsenal didn’t press Manchester City like they had pressed Leeds in their last home game.

“It was courtesy of their high press against Leeds that Arsenal won a penalty to make it 2-0. Emile Smith Rowe later picked up possession on the edge of the opposition box before assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make it 4-0.

“Yesterday was different. Arsenal showed the visitors too much respect and City were allowed to dominate.

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  • “They could bring it out from the back without any pressure. Several times in the first half, Ruben Dias was sitting as the nightwatchman while every other City player was within 60 yards of the Arsenal goal.

    “That includes John Stones, who is a man reborn. He didn’t miss a beat with his passing and his defending was just as strong. Aubameyang had no joy against him.

    “City boss Pep Guardiola said he’s going to have to rotate his team to cope with their schedule. For Mikel Arteta, the front four who finished this game are his best combination and they need to be starting matches.

    “I’d like to see Aubameyang on the left, Alexandre Lacazette central, Bukayo Saka on the right and Smith Rowe in behind.”

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