John Hartson urges Mikel Arteta to axe three Arsenal players after Spurs defeat


Hartson says Arsenal’s defence is categorically not good enough (Pictures: Stadium Astro/Getty)

John Hartson has urged Mikel Arteta to completely reshape his defence in the next transfer window after Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Spurs on Sunday.

Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring for the Gunners with a wonder strike from outside of the box, but, their defensive frailties came to the fore once again as Sead Kolasinac gifted a goal to Heung-Min Son to make it 1-1.

Poor marking from a corner allowed Toby Alderweireld to head home the winner in the 81st minute and condemn Mikel Arteta’s side to their third defeat since the restart.

While Arsenal seemed to have slightly improved defensively under the Spaniard, keeping three clean sheets in a row prior to the 1-1 draw with Leicester City last week, they have been consistently found out against better opposition.

Arteta faces a major rebuilding project in the summer and former Gunners striker Hartson would like to see the back of all three starting centre-backs against Spurs.

‘Ideally, I’d like to replace all three, [Shkodran] Mustafi, Kolasinac and [David] Luiz, but I don’t think he’s going to replace all three,’ Hartson told Stadium Astro.

‘Rob Holding does okay when he comes in, still relatively young, I think the two full-backs [Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin] are decent, [Bernd] Leno in goal, I like [Dani] Ceballos, [Lucas] Torreira, [Granit] Xhaka he seems to like. 

‘For me, I would get rid of all three [defenders] if I possibly could but I don’t think that’s going to happen, but, all three of them I’m not sure they’d get in of any of the top four teams.’

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Arteta faces a battle to keep hold of top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal at the Emirates with just one year left on his current contract.

But, Hartson believes that regardless if the Gabon international stays, Arsenal cannot move forward until they improve defensively.

‘I’m sure he [Arteta] is looking at the defence and thinking, ‘That’s nowhere near good enough’,’ Hartson added.

‘The mistake from Kolasinac today led to the goal from Son, there was other mistakes, Mustafi, the way that he defended in the second half, diving in, not standing on his feet, just poor decision making from an experienced international centre-back who cost £35 million from Valencia, you want more than that from your centre-half. 

‘David Luiz is a makeshift centre-half, he will only come in if Arsenal don’t buy another centre-half, I don’t think he’ll get much game time next season although he’s been given an extra year’s contract. 

‘I can’t see Arsenal progressing, Aubameyang, or no Aubameyang, progressing in the right direction unless they shore up defensively. 

‘They need two centre-halves of quality and they’re not going to come cheap. 

‘You cannot score three or four goals every game to win a football match because Arsenal keep giving the opposition chances to score against them and you always feel as if Arsenal are going to concede a goal.’

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