Martin Keown suggested during BT Sport’s live post-match coverage of Arsenal’s latest Europa League tie (broadcast on 6/11; 18:04) that, barring Kieran Tierney and perhaps Shkodran Mustafi, none of Unai Emery’s side did enough during the 1-1 draw with Vitoria to send a message to the Gunners boss.
Arsenal have taken a further step towards the knockout stages of the competition. They remain unbeaten and only a bizarre run of results is likely to deny them comfortably going through.
Unfortunately, their result in Portugal only increased the pressure on Emery’s shoulders. Arsenal were poor. They only put one attempt on target and conceded an equaliser in stoppage-time.
And after the game, Keown was asked whether any of those who featured have improved their first-team prospects with their performance. The former Arsenal defender hinted that only two players can maybe afford to feel content with their individual displays.
“I think Tierney’s just starting to get a place in the team,” he told BT Sport. “Ceballos getting injured means that Torreira and Guendouzi will probably now play [against Leicester] sat in that midfield. But no-one has really stood out tonight.
“Mustafi might have taken some steps back into our hearts and minds, but I don’t see him starting an Arsenal game, so no, it was a difficult night for all of them.”
Before Wednesday, the Europa League had provided some respite for Emery. The competition has seen a number of exciting young players come into the side and make a real impact. Of course, the Gunners went all the way to the final last season.
They can afford to look at the competition slightly differently for the time-being with qualification almost secured, particularly with Leicester ahead this weekend.
But it is surely fair to say that Arsenal’s performance has done little to help Emery.