Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has accused the Gunners of allowing themselves to be "bullied" by West Ham United at the weekend. The north London club surrendered a two-goal lead to the Hammers only to eventually draw 3-3, and Keown thinks their defenders need to show more resilience.
Although he refused to cite mental fragility for their faltering title challenge, Keown suggested a lack of backbone has become an issue at the club. "There is no single factor – at the end of the day, Arsenal have not been good enough over the season," he told the Daily Mail.
"You start looking at credentials of potential champions and the best teams are above Arsenal. I know they can mathematically still do it but I don't think they will.
"Recently, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin in midfield have given them more backbone, but I think Gabriel needs to get more physical. When he tried to be more physical against Chelsea he was sent off, and now he is trying to behave himself but he still hasn't found the right balance."
Arsenal conceded a hat-trick to West Ham's Andy Carroll at the weekend, and Keown has advocated a more physical approach to dealing with such players. "Against West Ham, when Andy Carroll is running his studs down the back of Laurent Koscielny's Achilles inside the first 10 minutes, Gabriel has to take that personally," the ex-Arsenal defender explained.
"I was very surprised that Arsenal's defenders were happy to allow their team-mates to be bullied. I like to see some aggression in central defensive players and Arsene Wenger will be happy to see more physicality from him."
Arsenal slipped 13 points behind table-toppers Leicester after their draw with West Ham. The Gunners have already been eliminated from the FA Cup and Champions League, too.