BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand has told Mikel Arteta what to look for in new signings after Arsenal were ‘destroyed’ by Liverpool on Saturday.
The Gunners‘ hopes of qualifying for Europe through the Premier League were dealt a potentially fatal blow against last season’s champions with Mikel Arteta falling to a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
It was a disappointing display from Arsenal, who appeared to await their slaughter, showing little promise of threatening Jurgen Klopp’s men across the evening.
And former Manchester United defender Ferdinand has criticised the Gunners’ stars on the back of that.
“It does (feel flat),” he told BT Sport. “They were totally dismantled at the weekend, they were destroyed by Liverpool and that’s a Liverpool team that hasn’t scaled the heights they have of the previous two seasons.
“They’re reliant on young, homegrown players. Their best players this season are the ones that have come through the system, which 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.”
Ferdinand added: “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.
“I see the patterns, we watched them against Fulham in the first game of the season and they had the wide players coming inside and the full-backs getting wide.
“So I see the tactical stuff and that’s great but it’s not consistent enough and there’s things that we’ve been talking about behind the scenes that have contributed to that.”
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Ferdinand also suggested how Arsenal should tweak their recruitment process as they look to return to the top four in the coming seasons.
“I think in the recruitment process going forward with Arsenal, their teams of the past were built on big characters,” he added. “Leaders like Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
“They’re not only great players, they’re big characters. I don’t see that enough in that dressing room right now. Recruitment, that’s where I’d be looking.”