• Premier League

Scholes accuses Arsenal stars of going missing

ESPN staff
March 25, 2014
Gunners shooting blanks

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes has accused Arsenal's players of going missing in big matches after they stumbled to a 2-2 draw at home against Swansea City.

Scholes, who won 11 Premier League titles as a United player, was working as a pundit for Sky Sports at Old Trafford where his old side lost 3-0 to Manchester City. However, when asked about Arsenal's disappointing week having followed up a 6-0 defeat by Chelsea with more dropped points on Tuesday night, Scholes was uncomprimising in his assessment.

"It's probably a typical week for Arsenal, really," said Scholes. "They capitulated at Chelsea and it's a similar theme that seems to happen when they play the top teams. It happened at Liverpool [a 5-1 defeat], they conceded six against City, they just seem to go missing.

"The Artetas, Cazorlas, Rosickys, Ozil as well, although I know he's not played for a bit - it's like they go out with no discipline. It's almost as if it's 'OK, you four, five midfielders, you go out there, do what you want, try to score us a goal, play some nice one-twos, a bit of tippy-tappy football, don't bother running back'.

"There's no leaders within them. There's no Patrick Vieira, no Tony Adams, no Martin Keown. Sometimes, as a midfield player, when you're up against it you just have to say 'look, come in beside me for five, ten minutes', try and stop the flow of attacks.

"And these [players at Arsenal], they go 2-0 down and they just carry on what they're doing. 'I'll have a wander up front, try a one-two, lose the ball'. Nobody bothers sprinting back. You wonder why they're in the position they're in?

"It's Arsenal fans you feel sorry for. You get the same every year - maybe a hint of the title for a few weeks and then they go to Chelsea, City, Liverpool, they just do nothing. Fans expect Arsenal to be going for the trophy. I know they're in third or fourth but they're a million miles away in my eyes.

"When we played against Arsenal, against those kinds of players, it was really tough, a tough day. You play Arsenal now and you think 'just get stuck in about them' and you've won the game."

Scholes also spoke of his disappointment in the development of Jack Wilshere, which he puts down to not having the right kind of role models alongside him in the Arsenal midfield.

"Jack Wilshere came on the scene and what a top young player he looked and he's never really gone on. He needs people like Vieira to help him come on," Scholes said. "Injuries haven't helped him, no, but his developmentā€¦ from being 17 years of age, he doesn't look any better now than he did when he was 17."

Former United team-mate and fellow pundit Gary Neville added: "There's no evidence that you can win the league without strength and power to get you through those difficult moments.

"They're just demoralised, those [Arsenal] players, because when you're playing in big matches - I know they've coped with big losses in games - but when it got to Saturday that's just one too far. They've dropped points tonight and that's where you need those characters and leaders, strength, power in your team.

"You've seen out there [at Old Trafford] tonight a team with strength and power. Fernandinho, [Yaya] Toure, [Vincent] Kompany, [Edin] Dzeko, they get you through games like these, they win titles for you, those players. Vieira, [Emmanuel] Petit, [Tony] Adams, Keown or whether it's here - [Jaap] Stam, [Gary] Pallister, [Steve] Bruce, [Roy] Keane, [Paul] Ince - all teams that have won championships have had characters that drive you through difficult moments. Arsenal don't have any of them, let alone one."

Paul Scholes rarely backed off against Arsenal in his playing days © PA Photos
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