Mikel Arteta’s decision to ‘risk’ Thomas Partey in Arsenal’s defeat to Liverpool questioned by Martin Keown

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Thomas Partey became the 14th Arsenal player sent off during Mikel Arteta’s reign (Picture: Getty)

Martin Keown has questioned Mikel Arteta’s decision to bring on Thomas Partey in Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool, arguing the substitution was ‘too much of a risk’ given the ‘game was gone’.

Diogo Jota struck twice to put Liverpool out of sight in the second leg at the Emirates – a week on from the sides’ goalless draw on Merseyside – and the situation went from bad to worse for the Gunners in the 90th minute.

Second-half substitute Partey – fresh back from the Africa Cup of Nations – was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence and the red card means he will be suspended for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Burnley this weekend.

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It leaves Arsenal short of options in the middle of the park, with Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny also unavailable, and Arteta was spitting feathers given the mindless and unnecessary nature of the Ghanaian’s second yellow card.

Partey has since apologised for his sending off, but Keown feels the midfielder should not have been on the pitch in the first place given he had just returned from AFCON and victory was beyond Arsenal.

‘That’s 14 players sent off under Arteta. It’s unbelievable, it’s ill discipline,’ former Arsenal defender Keown told talkSPORT.

‘I don’t think Partey should have been coming on anyway. There should be a rule where you don’t play a game of football unless you get 60 hours between games as a player.

‘Of course [he’s going to say he wants to play], what else is he going to say? He wants to come back, it’s the opportunity of a semi-final.

‘Once you’re on the pitch you make the correct decisions and you don’t make stupid challenges and that’s what he did. But I felt the game was gone.

‘At 2-0 down were they really going to get back into it? We’ve got Xhaka out, we’ve got Partey out now, we’ve got all these issues in midfield so it was too much of a risk.

‘I would have just left him there and accepted it as the game was done so the manager plays a part in that.’

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Keown urged Arteta to sort out Arsenal’s disciplinary issues as it reflects badly on him as a manager.

‘Why are so many players getting sent off? That now doesn’t reflect well on the manager,’ he added.

‘They are all in this together and they’ve got to keep 11 players on the pitch. They’re not good enough to win games with 10 players.

‘If you’re the manager there you’re saying: “Guys, you’ve got to clean your act up because it’s reflecting on me!”

‘Okay, you want an aggressive Arsenal, you want them to be like street fighters, but you want them to be sensible and not making silly decisions and that’s what was happening last night.’

Diogo Jota celebrates scoring for Liverpool against Arsenal

Jota scored twice to book Liverpool’s place in the Carabao Cup final (Picture: Getty)

Keown’s former Arsenal team-mate, Parlour, felt similarly and called on Arteta to sit down with his players and work to eradicate the ‘silly mistakes’.

‘There is a problem there,’ the ex-Arsenal and England midfielder said.

‘He’s got to sit down with the whole team and say, “Look, silly mistakes! You’re making so many mistakes!”

‘Suddenly he’s out for the game at the weekend. They were light in midfield anyway and he would have been a big player back after being knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations and now, suddenly, he’s missing the game again.

‘It’s just common sense. I played in a team that did get red cards – I’m not saying we didn’t – but not as regular as they do now.’

Parlour added: ‘I know the rules have changed a little bit and you can’t tackle, but that was a stupid mistake last night,’ the ex-England international added.

‘It was a really stupid mistake and he’s let his team down again.’


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