Martin Keown has laid into Arsenal’s flops and claimed the dressing room has become “toxic” under struggling boss Mikel Arteta.
Arteta steered Arsenal to FA Cup glory in August, but just four months later finds his Gunners tenure under increasing pressure following a miserable run of form.
Arteta’s men were then thumped 4-1 by Manchester City in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final, stretching that wretched domestic form to eight matches without a win.
Fans are now understandably divided and Gunners legend Keown has suggested that Arteta has lost the dressing room.
Speaking to TalkSport, he said: “You wonder how toxic the dressing room is when there’s a growing group of players who don’t take part and sit in the corner.
“I wouldn’t say they’d be sniggering, but there is an undercurrent, surely there must be.”
Arteta has previously insisted that the challenge at Arsenal spans far wider than simply coaching the team, with the boss demanding and determined to oversee a complete revamp of almost every department at the club.
That process was kick-started in mid-August by the departure of head of football Raul Sanllehi.
Arteta and technical director Edu have gained greater control on recruitment in the wake of Sanllehi’s exit, but Keown has hit out at the recruitment policy.
He added: “People are calling for Emile Smith-Rowe and all these youngsters, but you can’t just throw them into this situation.
“Some of the guys are not getting opportunities early enough, then all of a sudden we put Runarsson into the team when he’s not ready.
“That has to come down to the manager. You really can’t get anything wrong from now on in, with the January transfer window coming up, there can be no more mistakes.
“They paid £25m for William Saliba and he doesn’t have a squad number, Nicolas Pepe is wondering around like he’s not interested, Willian is on holiday.
“You have to pick senior players you can rely upon and bolt young kids onto that, with players they can pick up the right habits.
“At the moment, the club feels like it’s in free fall.”