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‘He’s had an absolute NIGHTMARE’ – Arsenal legend Ian Wright hits out at struggling star

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That’s according to Ian Wright.

Mkhitaryan struggled as the Gunners laboured to a 1-0 win away at 10-man Watford last night.

The Armenian was well below par at Vicarage Road and wasted a great chance from an Alex Iwobi cross.

In 32 Premier League matches for Arsenal, Mkhiatryan has returned eight goals and eight assists.

That’s since he moved to the Emirates little over a year ago in a swap deal with Manchester United that saw Alexis Sanchez go the other way.

And Wright feels as though both attackers are playing well below their peak level.

Asked if Mkhitaryan has simply struggled to settle in the Premier League having also failed to convince at Old Trafford, Wright told Premier League Productions: “I totally agree to a certain extent but we’re still talking about a quality player. 

“He’s come in and we know he’s a quality operator but it’s just not happened. 

“Between these two [Mkhitaryan and Sanchez], they’ve both had an absolute nightmare. Honestly they’ve had an absolute nightmare. 

“Even if that’s the case, then you’d have to say with the assists, it’s not enough. 

“I think Man United will be looking at Sanchez and would’ve thought they’d have got more than that. 

“The people who got the best deal out of this was the agents, really, to be totally honest. 

“Them two, they’re nowhere near what they should be.”

Mkhitaryan was also recently criticised by one of Wright’s ex-Arsenal team-mates, Paul Merson. 

He feels that the 30-year-old simply doesn’t have enough of a work ethic defensively.

Merson told the Daily Star: “Unai Emery could cost his team Champions League football unless he wises up.

“Arsenal are a completely different team away from home and they keep making the same mistake and losing.

“They have a soft centre and they need to be much harder to beat when they go away.

“You can’t go to Everton and play Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. You’re going to get overpowered.

“If you play them away from home, as soon as you lose the ball you’re playing with nine men.”

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Arsenal's soft underbelly remains under Unai Emery on the road

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Arsenal’s soft underbelly remains under Unai Emery on the road… they have claimed an incredible 22 points less away than at Emirates and have conceded one more than Cardiff!

  • Arsenal’s ‘soft underbelly’ that was there under Arsene Wenger still remains
  • Unai Emery can’t lay claim to improvement when his side still struggle away
  • The Premier League table on away results alone has them down in ninth position 
  • The 31 goals they have conceded from 17 games is one more than Cardiff

We are, it seems, constantly wrestling with the notion of Unai Emery’s Arsenal being better than the one he inherited from Arsene Wenger.

You only have to look at their away performances to reach the conclusion that very little has changed.

The ‘soft underbelly’ we called it in Wenger’s day, a vulnerability when the going got tough. And so it remains the case under Emery.

Arsenal's dreadful away form could see them miss out on Champions League football yet again

Arsenal’s dreadful away form could see them miss out on Champions League football yet again

Unai Emery's side fell to another defeat away from home on Wednesday, losing 3-1 to Wolves

Unai Emery's side fell to another defeat away from home on Wednesday, losing 3-1 to Wolves

Unai Emery’s side fell to another defeat away from home on Wednesday, losing 3-1 to Wolves

If Arsenal’s greatest Premier League side won the moniker ‘The Invincibles’, how about ‘The Invisibles’ for the current vintage when they leave the comfort of North London?

They were a shambles during Wednesday night’s 3-1 defeat at Wolves, conceding three times in 17 minutes before half-time, and this after a promising start.

Emery cannot realistically lay claim to improvement when his side are repeatedly capable of such performances on the road. 

And for all the talk of systems and formations, it remains the suspicion that personnel are the underlying cause of their dismal away form.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Granit Xhaka and Alex Iwobi aren’t the first names you would associate with resolution, sweat and tenacity, qualities often needed in a division where you have to earn the right to play away from home.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Co don't have the tenacity and sweat needed to play away

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Co don't have the tenacity and sweat needed to play away

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Co don’t have the tenacity and sweat needed to play away 

The league table on away results alone has Arsenal in ninth, beneath Crystal Palace, Watford and Leicester respectively, and each of their top-six rivals.

The 31 goals they have conceded from 17 games is one more than Cardiff and equal to Brighton, the two teams left scrapping it our for survival. That demonstrates the level they are at when removed from the cosy surrounds of the Emirates Stadium, where their home record is bettered by only title contenders Manchester City and Liverpool.

Wenger signed off last season after seven straight away defeats, the club’s worst run since 1966. It was not as if Emery was in the dark when it came to identifying flaws and areas for improvement.

He has tried four at the back and a three-man defence, using wing-backs to push forward and exploit the space created by their inside forwards. It is Arsenal, however, who have found themselves exploited.

The Gunners' soft underbelly during Arsene Wenger's final years still remains under Emery

The Gunners' soft underbelly during Arsene Wenger's final years still remains under Emery

The Gunners’ soft underbelly during Arsene Wenger’s final years still remains under Emery

They lost heart at Wolves after a decent opening in which they pinned the hosts in their own half but could not find a way through. Their passing became sloppy, decision-making unfathomable and application reduced, all trademarks of the away-day demise under Wenger.

It is this that will cost Arsenal a place in the top four and undermine Emery’s hopes of progression, especially given the loss of Champions League football as an attraction for would-be recruits.

Speak to Arsenal supporters and they say it is a lack of leadership that is their biggest weakness away from home. Where, they argue, are the standard-bearers whipping others into line when interest wanes as games slip away?

And that is why it comes back to personnel. Ozil, in particular, has come to define the wishy-washy nature of modern-day Arsenal.

There is no longer a fear-factor when the Gunners roll into town, the trepidation is all theirs.

Arsenal no longer have that fear-factor needed on their travels in the Premier League

Arsenal no longer have that fear-factor needed on their travels in the Premier League

Arsenal no longer have that fear-factor needed on their travels in the Premier League



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Could the pressure get to Man City and will Arsenal make top four? – TACKLE KEOWN

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Should Manchester United sell Marcus Rashford, could the pressure get to Man City’s players and will Arsenal make top four? – TACKLE KEOWN

  • There is a bumper weekend of action at the top and bottom of Premier League
  • Manchester City and Liverpool are going toe-to-toe in their battle for the title
  • Arsenal have suffered a blip and could miss out on a place in the top four 
  • Join us as Martin Keown answers YOUR questions in this week’s Tackle Keown 

Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown is back to answer your questions ahead of a busy weekend of action in the Premier League.

Manchester City and Liverpool are going toe-to-toe in the battle for the Premier League title, while below them teams falter in their challenge for the top four.

Martin’s old side Arsenal are one side who are going through a blip in form, and the Gunners are just one of the subjects being tackled by our columnist this week.

Scroll down to read through all of Martin’s answers to your questions…

If you are using the MailOnline app, please click HERE to view the live blog.



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Eric Bailly – Should Arsenal sign this Man United reject?

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When I first saw the Eric Bailly to Arsenal rumour my initial thought was no way, we do not want or need another Manchester United flop, however, on reflection, I am of the opinion that he may well be worth signing.

I watched Bailly against Paris St Germain and he was woeful but he should not be judged on just that one game because if that was the case we would have no team left after the games against Everton, Crystal Palace and Wolves.

The Ivory Coast international has clearly not had a great time with United since signing for them three years ago for a cool £30 Million but let’s be honest, they are a dysfunctional lot at Old Trafford and players that have failed up there over the last few years can be given another chance under the right circumstances.

United signed Bailly when he was just 22-years-old, well away from his prime and still a work in progress, he was bought for a significant sum of money and by all accounts was a success in Spain with Villarreal.

What this means to me is that we can sign a player that can easily recapture his previous form for a sum of money far less than what he is probably truly worth and that our manager is familiar with him from his time in Spain as the Sevilla manager.

We clearly need defenders I am not sure anyone would disagree with that and as Bailly is right now he is not an obvious choice but his age, raw talent and value makes him a player we should seriously consider buying.

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