Arsenal players react after Slavia Prague equalised during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg football match between Arsenal and Slavia Prague at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 8, 2021. Ian KINGTON / AFP

Former Arsenal player and sports pundit Martin Keown has suggested the Gunners side “need someone to punch them in the face” in order to get them back to their glory days after a lethargic performance in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.

Mikel Arteta’s men headed into their Europa tie against Slavia Prague with a much-needed win after being humbled by Liverpool over the weekend.

However, a couple of missed opportunities and shambolic defending cut shut a Nicholas Pepe 86th minute goal at the death to grant the visitors a much-deserved draw at the Emirates.

Keown was unimpressed with the London club’s performance and expressed his frustration at their cautious approach to the game.

“For me it was about Arsenal tonight and the way they played. By sitting off they chose the wrong tactics,” a furious Keown said while being interviewed on BT Sport.

“There was an opportunity to take the initiative and ask questions, can you play? But they were allowed to settle and build from the back,” he further added.

The first half for Arsenal was a tale of misplaced passes, overhit crosses, and missed chances from regular high fliers in the likes of Bukayo Saka and Lacazette, with the former EPL-winning player tearing into his former side after the break.

“It seems like Arsenal are not proactive in games, they need someone to slap them or punch them in the face before they wake up and start to play,”he remarked.

“He (Arteta) did it in the second half with the substitutions but they couldn’t see it through.”

The 54-year-old pundit admitted Arteta was on the right path to changing the woes of the last season’s FA cup winners but was not getting the right reaction from his players.

“The result is hugely disappointing, it’s going to be difficult now for Arteta. He’s made a lot of changes within the club, a lot of people have been allowed to go.”

Arsenal next travel to Sheffield on Sunday with hopes of putting their barren run behind them as they plan to put pressure on 9th place Aston-Villa.


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