Paul Merson says Unai Emery is to blame for Arsenal’s second-half collapse at Watford on Sunday.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace gave the Gunners a two-goal lead at Vicarage Road before the break, but they let it slip as Quique Sanchez Flores’ team staged a second-half comeback to secure a 2-2 draw.
Both of the Hornets’ goals involved mistakes from the visitors’ defence, with Tom Cleverley’s goal coming after a stray pass from Sokratis Papastathopoulos before David Luiz conceded the penalty which allowed Roberto Pereyra to equalise for the hosts.
And although the two Arsenal centre-backs were heavily criticised for their individual errors after the match, Merson believes the responsibility should fall on Emery.
“I’ve got to put it on the manager,” the former Arsenal star wrote in his Sky Sports column .
“People will say there were experienced players on the pitch, but he’s the manager and they’re paid to listen to him.
“You can’t have a manager give instructions on how to play and then they go out and do their own thing. There would be mutiny, so they’re listening to him and he’s not getting it right.”
Merson, who started his career with the Gunners, was particularly critical of the Spaniard’s game management and the decision to introduce youngsters Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, while taking off the likes of Mesut Ozil with the game in the balance.
“His substitutions weren’t right,” he continued. “They needed to keep the ball in that game but they kept giving it away cheaply.
“The only player who didn’t give the ball away all game was Mesut Ozil.
“You just knew that Arsenal needed to score another goal but he was bringing youngsters on in a game when you’re under pressure.
“Since this new rule started when they can pass the ball in the six-yard box, why have they all started doing that? No one did it last year, and now they’re all doing it.
“The manager should have seen that and got the message out onto the pitch to stop that and get the ball forward. If they don’t win the first ball, they can win the second ball, and go from there.
“If Watford did win the ball in their own half, they have to come through three-quarters of the pitch to score. What are they trying to do?
“Sometimes these players think they’re something special and won’t be closed down – it’s pathetic.”
Merson added: “Only Arsenal would give them a chance to get back in the game.
“The shackles came off and Watford felt like they had nothing to lose, but the manager got it horribly wrong.
“I couldn’t believe he brought Ozil off. Who else is going to open up a team bar him?
“To get Sokratis to play out from the back… the lad can’t play. He’s not David Luiz. He can pass, he’s comfortable on the ball. No way can Sokratis play the same way.
“They need to play three at the back as they’re not good enough to play a four. They let in too many goals and make too many mistakes.
“It’s like anything in life, if you keep on doing the same things, you’ll keep on getting the same results.”