Monday 18 November 2019

'They play with no discipline': Paul Scholes launches withering attack on Arsenal's lack of character

Former Manchester United midfielder launches scathing attack on lack of fight shown by Arsène Wenger's side

Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes delivered a withering attack on Arsenal’s players, accusing them of having no character, leadership or discipline, and claiming Jack Wilshere has not improved since he was 17.

As Arsène Wenger admitted his team are now more worried about holding on to a top-four finish than challenging for the title, Scholes lambasted Arsenal and in particular their midfielders.

He said: “It was a typical week for Arsenal. For one reason or another players just seem to go missing.

“The Artetas, the Cazorlas, Rosickys, and Özil as well, although I know he’s not played for a bit, it seems like they go on the pitch with no discipline. It’s almost as if they say: ‘you four, five midfielders, go out there do what you want. Try and score a goal, a few little nice one-twos, a bit of tippy-tappy football. Don’t bother running back’.

“I don’t know if that’s what the manager does, it just seems that way. They just seem to be midfield players with no discipline. There are no leaders, there’s no Patrick Vieira, there’s no (Tony) Adams, there’s no Martin Keown.

“Sometimes, as a midfield player, when you’re up against it you have to say: ‘look, just come in here, sit beside me for five or 10 minutes and just try to stop the flow of attack’. These, they go 2-0 down, they just carry on what they are doing: ‘We’ll have a little walk upfield, lose the ball, play a nice little one-two and not even bother sprinting back’ – and you wonder why they are in the position they are in.

“I know they are third or fourth in the league but they are a million miles away in my eyes. When we played Arsenal it was really tough. You play Arsenal now, you think just get stuck in and you’ve won the game. Jack Wilshere, he came on the scene and what a top player he looked, but he’s never really gone on. He needs people like Vieira to take him to the next level. His development, he doesn’t look any better now than he did at 17.”

Wenger revealed Aaron Ramsey has suffered another injury setback in training and will not be fit to face Manchester City on Saturday.

Arsenal were top of the League on Feb 2, but have taken just eight points from a possible 21 since. Asked about his team’s title chances, Wenger said: “I think at the moment that’s not our biggest worry and we just have to try to be realistic and we have to come back into the next game.

“We have to look behind us and of course we also have to look in front of us, but as well behind us. Everton won, so we have of course to focus and prepare well for the next game. It will be open until the end, we can still have surprises.

“Manchester City had a good result, they look a bit unstoppable and are favourites because they still have two games in hand. City and Chelsea are the favourites for the title. We don’t have too much room to come back into it.”

Wenger is currently without a host of key players, but is not optimistic over Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Özil or Wilshere returning soon.

“None of them are close to coming back,” said Wenger. “Koscielny is out for a while after that Özil is at least two or three weeks. Ramsey is maybe the closest.

“Ramsey is maybe two weeks. He’s had a setback. He’s had some scar tissue, then you have to slow down and the tendon is in a sensitive place. You always have to push, but not too far.

“It’s difficult to fight with half the team out. Swansea caretaker manager Garry Monk was left frustrated that referee Lee Probert blew for full-time just as Jonathan De Guzman was racing towards the Arsenal goal in search of a winner. Monk said: “It was a poor decision.”

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