'They are cheating their supporters' - Roy Keane scathing in his criticism of Arsenal
Roy Keane ripped into Arsenal’s "weak players" and accused them of cheating their own supporters as they went out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage for a sixth successive season.
Keane has been an outspoken critic of Arsenal inability to convert their potential into success in the top competitions over recent years and he didn’t hold back as he reflected on their Champions League exit against Barcelona.
A 3-1 defeat at the Nou Camp sealed a 5-1 aggregate win for Barca and coming on the back of a 2-1 FA Cup defeat against Watford on Sunday, Wenger is under pressure like never before as he tries to revive his side’s flagging Premier League title hopes.
Keane offered little sympathy in his role as an ITV Sport pundit, as he launched this stinging verbal onslaught on Wenger and his players, as he accused them of lifting their effort levels for big games and coming up short in less glamorous ties.
“It must be hard for their manager and supporter to stomach to see the Arsenal players lifting it for certain games and can’t do it for Watford at home, or Swansea at home. They are cheating the supporters in that sense,” fumed a heavily bearded Keane.
“They have a weak group of players that can’t lift it for certain games. The pressure seems to have got to them over the last few months and if you are at Arsenal Football Club and you can’t deal with the pressure, then you shouldn’t be there.
“Where are the leaders and the characters out there? This is not just at Arsenal as other clubs are lacking leaders as well, but they have a problem.
“When I played against Arsenal, they always had a strong spine to their team, but when I see this team, you will always fancy your chances.
“There is no shame losing 3-1 to Barcelona in the second leg after the damage was done in the first leg, but there seems to be a weakness running through the whole club.”
Meanwhile, former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon suggested Wenger has to change if he wants to remain in charge at the club beyond this season.
“He is very stubborn in the way he sets his teams up and the way the club is run, but he needs to change,” stated Dixon.
“In the past, he has built teams with strength and power and that changed to a team playing tippy-tappy football with smaller players and that hasn’t worked.
“I believe he can change, but unless he adapts and if we don’t qualify for the Champions League, which is a possibility, I think the fans will turn.
“I believe he is the right man to be at the club, but unless he changes, he won’t be there.”