Mikel Arteta has been criticised by Jamie Redknapp for failing to play his No 1 goalkeeper Bernd Leno in such a crucial match after Arsenal lost to Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup. While the Sky Sports pundit alluded to the fact the Carabao Cup may not be held in high regard by everyone, this was an important game for Arteta as the pressure mounts in north London.
It was a total mismatch from minute one at the Emirates Stadium and although Alexandre Lacazette drew Arsenal level in the first half, this was another uncomfortable watch.
Icelandic goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson endured a night to forget between the sticks in place of Leno.
He failed to beat Gabriel Jesus to Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross for the opening goal but that was quickly forgotten after Lacazette’s equaliser.
The summer signing from Dijon endured a moment to forget when he flapped Riyad Mahrez’s tame free-kick into the net.
“He was at fault for the first goal then made a brilliant save from Gabriel Jesus. It’s a nightmare for the poor boy.
“I’m sure Arsenal fans are thinking ‘why don’t we play our No 1 goalkeeper?’
“Goalkeepers don’t need to rest, I know it’s the Carabao Cup but it’s a big game for him today.
“It didn’t really make sense playing him in the first place.
“That being said, hopefully he gets over it quickly and it’s one of those things.
“You’ve got to pick yourself up, what more can you do?”
Arsenal will have to bounce back quickly, as they face Chelsea on Boxing Day at the Emirates.
It’s almost a year to the day that the Gunners threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to the Blues in one of Arteta’s first games in charge.
Now he needs a response from these players, despite retaining the support of technical director Edu and the Arsenal hierarchy.