Rio Ferdinand: Why I feel sorry for Mikel Arteta at Arsenal

Rio Ferdinand delivers his verdict on Arsenal's struggles under Mikel Arteta this season

Rio Ferdinand
Ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand (Photo: BT Sport)

Rio Ferdinand says he feels “sorry” for Mikel Arteta at Arsenal this season because the Gunners’ experienced players have not stepped up to the mark.

The north London side have struggled to find consistent form in the Premier League all season and they have only managed to win 12 of their 30 games in the top flight this term.

Arsenal were thoroughly outplayed as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat by Liverpool FC in the Premier League on Saturday to further dent their hopes of securing a place in Europe for next season.

Arteta has not been afraid to give some of the younger players in Arsenal’s squad a chance this season, with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka impressing whenever they have been called upon.

Former Manchester United defender Ferdinand believes that Arteta has been let down by Arsenal’s more experienced players for most of the campaign.

Speaking in an interview with BT Sport, Ferdinand said: “They’re reliant on young, homegrown players. Their best players this season are the ones that have come through the system.

“That is great on the one hand, but when you’ve had investment in other areas of the team with experience, you want those players to come to the fore as well.

“They’ve been let down by those experienced and seasoned players this season.”

The former England star continued: “I feel sorry for Arteta – you bring these young kids in, which the fans all want as they can identify with the young players as they feel that’s them coming into the first-team as well.

“But you need to be able rely and call upon the experienced players to usher those players through with you.

“We didn’t get into the first-team and were able to produce without the help of our senior players, we know how important it is.

“They need that support and need other people to look at when the chips are down a little bit, look at that senior player who says ‘come on, follow me, this is how you get through it.

“’I’ve been there and done it, just sit behind me and let’s go’

“The young players have been the ones that have been pushing from the front all season, that hasn’t helped Arsenal or Mikel Arteta in this period.”

Arsenal are currently preparing for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash against Slavia Prague on Thursday night.

The Gunners will take on Sheffield United in the Premier League this weekend.

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