"I used to call them 'my babies' 10 years ago, and they are still, when I look at them and think they are 'my babies'... that's the truth - I'm not being disrespectful when I say that"
Tuesday 22 October 2019 11:35, UK
Former Manchester United defender Patrice Evra criticised Arsenal's "weak mentality" and labelled them "babies" following their 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United.
The Gunners' stuttering away form in the Premier League continued as they missed the chance to go third in the table after Lys Mousset's first-half strike gave Sheffield United the three points at Bramall Lane on Monday Night Football.
Evra, who was a guest on MNF, revealed he used to refer to Arsenal as "babies" during his United career and believes nothing has changed at the club since Arsene Wenger's departure.
"Sheffield United deserved the win, but I'm not surprised about Arsenal," he told Monday Night Football.
"I used to call them 'my babies' 10 years ago, and they are still, when I look at them and think they are 'my babies'... that's the truth - I'm not being disrespectful when I say that.
"They look pretty, but they don't look like a winning team. They like playing good football, but I was so happy to play against them, because I knew I was going to win.
"Even when Robin van Persie came, and on the first day I shook his hand, and I said, 'welcome to a man's club'. At the beginning, he was upset, but after one month he said, 'you were completely right, Patrice'.
"I just don't see any leadership. I don't see any character or any personality. They look weak mentally.
"They have big players in David Luiz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, but there has been something missing for a few years now.
"Matteo Guendouzi was playing in midfield, but before he was playing in the French second league and he was not even playing regularly - and he's the best player in this team.
"I respect Aubameyang and Lacazette, but if those two guys don't score, they're in trouble, and nothing changes. I'm like, 'where is Arsene?' It is the same."
Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher says he is bored of seeing the same things happening time and time again at Arsenal, claiming they look worse under Unai Emery than they did with Wenger in charge.
"Sheffield United were absolutely brilliant tonight but I actually feared for Arsenal before kick-off," he told MNF. "I thought it would be a tough one for them, considering how Sheffield United performed against Liverpool.
"How often I've done this show over the last five or six years and I'm saying the same thing. Nothing is different under Unai Emery. I've said it before, I don't see anything different from when Arsene Wenger was there at the end. In fact, it actually looks worse.
"I actually said Sheffield United played better football than Arsenal in the first half. You'd have never really said that under Wenger.
"I always think a manager in his first season is getting to know his players and the league and it's still early in his second season, but I think we are just getting to that stage now in the next months, six weeks, then we get towards Christmas where you start actually thinking, 'is Emery the man to go into a third season?'
"I think it's like that with the Arsenal supporters and the top people at the club.
"I'm not talking about getting rid of the manager on the back of this and it's not even where they are in the league because I expect them to be where they are in the league, but I'm waiting for something different. I just don't like seeing the same stuff.
"Even if they were negative and defensive, and it wasn't the same as Wenger, but they were aggressive and tough to beat and lacked a bit of class or something like that... I just hate seeing the same thing.
"When a manager is brought in, whether we like it or not, a lot of the time you are brought in because the manager before is not getting X, Y and Z right. That's the thing we are bringing you in for, to fix that. Getting rolled over in big games, their away record, two clean sheets in 24 games and just eight wins in 24 on the road.
"What has changed? Nothing has changed."
by Adam Bate
It is not quite true to say that nothing has changed, because nobody could ever accuse Arsene Wenger of lacking an idea. The problem during the Frenchman's later years in charge of the club was that a lot of the supporters disagreed with the idea. The concern now is that nobody is quite sure what Unai Emery is trying to do with this Arsenal team.
He pointed to the penalty they were denied when Sokratis Papastathopoulos had his shirt pulled inside the box and Nicolas Pepe's shocking miss when the game was goalless to argue that Arsenal did not deserve to lose this game. But three shots on target tells a tale, and this was yet another below-par first-half performance from his team.
Arsenal rank tenth in the Premier League in the first half of games since Emery arrived. That is behind Crystal Palace, Everton, West Ham and Newcastle. They have a better record after the break and enjoyed a promising period at the start of the second half here, but changing the game is not something Emery is likely to receive much credit for any more.
It is true that Arsenal's substitutes have scored more than any other team during his time in charge but that's partly because he has made more half-time substitutions than anyone else. Is all this a sign of a proactive manager with a knack for turning a game in his team's favour, or an indication that he is still struggling to work out his best line-up?
The Arsenal supporters were singing the name of Dani Ceballos even in the first half. The Spaniard changed things, having more touches in the opening 15 minutes of the second half than Joe Willock had managed in the opening 45. Ceballos even finished the match having completed more passes in the opposition half than everyone except Matteo Guendouzi.
He is a genuine playmaker but despite being an Emery signing in the summer, it is not obvious that he wants this sort of player at the heart of his team.
Are Arsenal a passing team now?
It is not just last season's top four that have completed more passes than the Gunners this season but also Leicester and Brighton - two teams that have committed to a change of style under new coaches in Brendan Rodgers and Graham Potter.
Are Arsenal a pressing team now?
They are allowing more opposition passes per defensive action than any other team in last season's top six and -perhaps as a consequence - are starting their own attacks further away from the opposition goal than any of their rival teams too.
Emery has at least injected more speed into the team and there are signs that they can hurt opponents on the counter-attack. But it feels like there is a mishmash of ideas now.
Perhaps they will be able to stumble through and a clear vision for the future will emerge in time. Arsenal could have moved up to third with victory at Bramall Lane and the return of some key defenders offers hope that there are solutions within the squad. Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney were on the bench here. Hector Bellerin is nearing full fitness too.
But something still doesn't smell right at Arsenal, and that is why some supporters would be happy enough to see Emery depart right now. It is not just about the results. It is the lack of discernible progress that is frustrating those fans. Arsenal might be failing in a different way. But the appetite for change that was a feature of Wenger's final years remains.