Paul Scholes pulled no punches in his analysis of the Gunners as potential title challengers on Tuesday evening, labelling it "a typical week for Arsenal" on a night that saw them draw 2-2 at home to Swansea City.
Appearing as a studio pundit for Sky Sports' coverage of the Manchester derby, the ex-Manchester United midfielder wasn't left impressed by Arsene Wenger's side, who came from 1-0 down to lead the game, only to then lose two points through a 90th-minute Mathieu Flamini own goal.
Scholes was relentless in his assessment of Arsene Wenger's side, who at one point looked like favourites for this year's league title, but now sit fourth. The Mirror's John Cross quotes Scholes also commenting on the slow progress of Jack Wilshere:
For one reason or another, the players just seem to go missing. The Artetas, the Cazorlas, the Rosickys, Ozils although I know he has not played for a bit. They go on the pitch with no discipline. It's as though 'you four, five midfielders go out there and do what you want—try and score a goal. A few nice one-twos, nice tippy-tappy football—but don't bother running back.' That is my thoughts on it.
When we played against Arsenal teams it was really tough. Now, you play Arsenal and just get stuck in and you have won the game. Wilshere, what a really top young player, but he has not really gone on. He needs players like (Patrick) Vieira to take him to the next level. Injuries have not helped him but his development, from being 17, he does not look any better player now than when he was 17.
Before January, Arsenal had dropped just 15 points in total this season, but a recent downturn in form has seen them drop the same amount in their last nine league outings.
Scholes is correct in pointing out a specific failure to turn up at the big occasions, with the Gunners winning just three of their eight fixtures against the current top six, two of which came against local rivals Tottenham.
Their most recent big-game outing produced a 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea, which provided the main spark for Scholes' criticism.
|Arsenal Results vs. Premier League Current Top Six in 2013-14|
|Sept. 1, 2013||Tottenham (H)||Win||1-0|
|Nov. 2, 2013||Liverpool (H)||Win||2-0|
|Dec. 8, 2013||Everton (H)||Draw||1-1|
|Dec. 14, 2013||Manchester City (A)||Loss||6-3|
|Dec. 23, 2013||Chelsea (H)||Draw||0-0|
|Feb. 8, 2014||Liverpool (A)||Loss||5-1|
|March 16, 2014||Tottenham (A)||Win||1-0|
|March 22, 2014||Chelsea (A)||Loss||6-0|
It's not an unfamiliar sensation for fans of the North London outfit, who will remember the 2007-08 Premier League campaign, which featured a slump in performances during an almost identical part of their calendar.
Scholes appeared against Arsenal 29 times in his career, per Transfermarkt, winning 14 times and losing on 11 occasions with four draws, including fixtures against The Invincibles team of the early 2000s.
The New York Times' Stefan Bienkowski and Nic English of Squawka heaped praise on Scholes' approach:
It wasn't just Arsenal that the former playmaker commented on, however. Despite United's 3-0 loss to Manchester City on Tuesday, Scholes said David Moyes is deserving of his old club's loyalty, per Sky Sports:
You have to. He's only nine months into the job. You have to stand by him.
OK, he's made a couple of signings that haven't quite worked out yet, as he would have liked. In the summer, he's going to need backing—there's no doubt about that. Was he backed as well as he could have been last summer? I'm not too sure. But this summer, he has to be backed—and I think he knows he needs players.
Although he'd be too modest to point it out himself, United have failed to replace the presence that Scholes himself once contributed to the Red Devils' ethos, one which injected so much vitality into the teams that earned such success under Sir Alex Ferguson.
United now sit seventh in the English top flight, 15 points away from the Citizens and having played two games more than their foes. A Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich remains the club's only realistic avenue for major silverware this term.
Moyes is coming under increasing fire for the role he's played in the club's downward spiral over the last nine months. Although Scholes will have endured his share of disappointment at the Theatre of Dreams, never did the technician ever experience misfortune quite like what the club are currently going through.
Like Gary Neville before him, Scholes is another ex-United star making some controversial waves as he begins to tread punditry waters, and just as he did during his playing days, the former England international made instant headlines.
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