Graeme Souness sticks boot into Arsenal with harsh criticism of Arteta tactics

Graeme Souness laid into Mikel Arteta’s tactics following Arsenal’s shock defeat to Burnley on Sunday.

Arteta is facing increasing questions over his future after the 1-0 loss to the Clarets, which was the Gunners’ seventh from their first 11 Premier League games this season.

Granit Xhaka was sent off for a moment of madness during the defeat, when he grabbed Ashley Westwood around the throat.

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And 10-man Arsenal succumbed to a fourth successive home defeat in the top flight after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed into his own net.

Arteta’s side were perhaps fortunate not to be down to nine men after Mohamed Elneny was booked for pushing his hands into James Tarkowski’s face as the Gunners defended a corner.

James Tarkowski gestures to show that Mohamed Elneny pushed him in the face

And Souness afterwards tore into Arsenal’s coaching staff for giving the midfielder a crucial man-marking role at a set-piece.

“You’re setting your team up yesterday defensively,” said the pundit on Sky Sports . “Who in his staff has thought it would be a good idea for Elneny to be a marker at a set-piece, when Elneny is ignoring the ball completely and just staring at his man and pushes the guy down?

“He [Elneny] goes down pretending he’s been pushed. He should have been sent off there.

“Who has looked at the situation and thought ‘he could be one of our markers?’. If he does that once you don’t have him anywhere near marking a player.”

Graeme Souness tore into Arsenal’s coaching staff while discussing the Elneny incident

Souness said the 28-year-old Egypt international should have known better than to risk the referee’s wrath with his side already in a precarious position.

“That guy’s 28 years old,” the former Liverpool midfielder said.

“Someone in his staff must have seen that and thought, ‘Not sure about that boss, let’s put someone else there’. Someone on his staff has to go, ‘That’s down to me’.

“You learn at 15, 16 how to mark properly and if you’ve got half a brain it’s in your head forever. Don’t tell me that Elneny’s not marked someone in the past at a set-piece for Arsenal and shown signs that he might not be very good.”

Souness said Arteta and his staff shouldn’t have let Elneny man-mark at a set-piece

Souness added: “They could easily have gone down to nine men tonight, and in my opinion should have gone down to nine men.

“Someone in the coaching staff must have seen that in him and thought, ‘We can’t have him anywhere near marking someone’.”

The pundit even blamed former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who signed Elneny from Basel in 2016.

“That has to go back to Arsene Wenger,” said Souness. “He signed him. Whoever signed him and worked with him for a period of time. Him or his coaches have got to say, ‘This is how you mark’.”

The defeat left Arsenal 15th in the Premier League – just five points above the relegation zone – ahead of a must-win clash at home to Southampton on Wednesday.

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