Rio Ferdinand criticised Alexandre Lacazette for his role in Brighton’s equaliser against Arsenal (Picture: PA / BT Sport)
Rio Ferdinand believes a lack of forceful characters within the Arsenal squad will continue to undermine Mikel Arteta and singled out Alexandre Lacazette for showing a lack of bravery in the build-up to Brighton’s equaliser.
The Gunners appeared destined to bounce back from Wednesday’s chastening defeat at Manchester City when Nicolas Pepe fired them ahead midway through the second half.
But a typical lapse in concentration from a set-piece allowed Graham Potter’s strugglers a route back into the contest and Neal Maupey, who was earlier involved in an incident which left Bernd Leno nursing a serious knee injury, compounded Arsenal’s misery with an injury-time winner.
Lewis Dunk was the Brighton beneficiary when Arsenal switched off from a corner in the 75th minute, and although Ferdinand felt Bukayo Saka was partially at fault, the former Manchester United star apportioned most of the blame to Lacazette.
He told BT Sport: ‘Here, the defending from Arsenal’s point of view is very slack. One player goes out to play against two, we see it straight away. You’ve got to get people out. Saka at the back is a bit laboured, he’s got to get out in line with the defending line here.
‘In the end it’s a very good ball but Lacazette’s got to get out there and be brave and defend the cross properly. He’s got his hands behind his back. I don’t like defending like that in the box. Get out there (with your) full body.
‘Dunk puts his body on the line, gets the final touch and gets it over the line.
Mikel Arteta will look at that and think from a set-piece perspective we’ve got to do better than that.’
After an encouraging start to his tenure, Arteta has now suffered back-to-back defeats and faces and with Champions League qualification now nothing but a pipe dream he faces a monumental rebuilding job with limited funds.
‘On the task facing the Arsenal manager, Ferdinand added: ‘I think the recruitment needs looking at definitely, they are working on that and have got people in place. But it’s just you look there and are they the right characters?
‘Is that a team you see when they are in the trenches you’d want to be in among that lot to go and fight for a result you need a result?
‘You’ve got eight cup finals until the end of the season to go and get a respectable league position for Arsenal football club. I don’t feel that. It’s going to be very difficult.
‘Mikel Arteta and his staff, you can see there’s a freshness and ideas and he’s got his philosophy but we need to give him time to actually go into the transfer market and get some players who he would see as mirroring his philosophy, not just in terms of how he wants to play but also as personalities as well.
‘You want to galvanise a football club it not’s just about football ability sometimes all the players. They need good strong characters and they haven’t got that.’
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