Arsenal were supposed to go all out and throw the kitchen sink at Villarreal in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final. But, in the end, the Premier League side could not even score a single goal.
The Gunners needed just a single goal without reply to make it to the finals but their performance on Thursday came as a shock to a lot of people. Instead of giving it their all and hounding down the Villarreal players, the Arsenal men walked about at their own pace, with no real urgency.
And according to club legend Ray Parlour, this languid attitude stems from the fact that Arsenal do not have prolific leaders in their side any more.
“They haven’t been great at the Emirates, and that’s where you’ve got to make it a fortress,” Parlour said on talkSPORT. “You’ve got to make sure the teams coming there are fearful, but teams aren’t fearful of Arsenal, they probably enjoy going to the Emirates. It’s been really poor this season.
“Mikel Arteta will be so disappointed with his players. They should have been confident going into the game, they know what they had to do, they’ve got the away goal so go out there on the front foot, but it just didn’t work out like that.
“It was like a testimonial in the first half, I just didn’t see any tackles flying in.
“I go back to Tuesday night, watching Man City vs PSG, and that was a proper game. It had everything, great football, tackles flying in, goal, opportunities for both sides, it was a brilliant game to watch – but I didn’t see that from Arsenal last night.
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“I don’t see any leaders at Arsenal. Going back to my time, we had three or four of them in our team, Vieira, Keown, Adams, and when you weren’t doing your job you’d get hammered!
“But Arsenal don’t have any players like that.”
During the second leg, Arsenal managed 14 shots out of which only two were on target, a figure which clearly illustrates how poor the Premier League side were on the night. It was always a risk having so many youngsters on the pitch but experienced players like Aubameyang and Bellerin were just not able to balance it out.
This semi-final loss means Arsenal will not be playing in Europe next season, something which no one could have thought about a couple of seasons ago. And most of this has happened because the club’s recent managers have made some really unwanted signings.