Ian Wright believes Mikel Arteta’s apparent Arsenal revolution was halted in its tracks on Sunday with one of the worst performances he can remember seeing from the club in their 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa.
Arsenal slipped out of the top half of the table after equalling their heaviest defeat under Arteta, matching the three-goal loss against Manchester City last season, with the Spaniard taking the blame for the absence of any “spirit” among the players.
The result is a setback to their Champions League hopes and leaves them six points off league-leaders Leicester City, but former Arsenal striker and club favourite Wright was more concerned with the performance itself, given how their attack failed to give Villa any problems.
After beating Manchester United 1-0 last weekend and seeing off Molde in the Europa League in midweek, Arteta rotated his side to bring in fresh legs for the visit of high-flying Villa, yet watched helplessly as they produced a drab and below-par display.
“It’s as bad a performance as I’ve seen from an Arsenal side, when you consider only two of them were playing in midweek” Wright said on BBC’s Match of the Day.
“It was poor in every department. They need to break the lines, they need space to hit the ball into, they were dithering on the ball. It was a million miles away from the performance against Manchester United. They were streets ahead of us today.”
The victory, which Villa boss Dean Smith hailed as greater than the 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool last month, leaves his side in sixth place in the table, level on points with fifth-place Chelse and just a point off the top four.
It led to glowing praise from former England striker Alan Shearer, who believed that they were able to rely on the type of team performance that Arteta criticised his own side for not producing.
“Every single one of them was fantastic,” said Shearer. “It was a complete team performance, with and without the ball. Close control, running in behind, working as a team, ability on the ball.
“Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish ran them ragged at times. It could’ve been a lot more (than three goals), it should’ve been.
“The performance was magnificent, it had absolutely everything.”
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