Paul Merson slammed Arsenal as "tactically clueless" after they blew a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Anderlecht at the Emirates.
The Gunners looked to be on track to qualify for the last 16 along with Borussia Dortmund as they opened up a 3-0 advantage against the Belgians. But the game changed dramatically in the final 30 minutes, when the visitors staged a stirring comeback to snatch a draw and leave Sky Sports pundit Merson fuming at the display.
“I think they are tactically clueless, that’s an honest opinion,” said the former Arsenal man.
“This is not the first time it’s happened, it’s happened a lot. It’s absolutely clueless. For me the manager has to get a message on, but these are international footballers, they are not little kids.
"They play for their countries, in World Cups, in the Premier League, and they are all bombing forward. Surely something in your head, if you know football, you say let’s stop here, let’s have two banks of four, leave two up front and let them us break us down. It’s clueless as football knowledge.”
While Arsenal still only need a point to qualify from Group D they are now five points behind Dortmund with just two games left to play.
And former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann agreed with Merson that the Gunners should have closed out the victory against the Belgians.
“The naivety is staggering, they were still attacking at 3-1 and 3-2 with five or six men,” said Hamman. “Collectively it comes back to the manager to make the changes. At 3-0 or 3-1 he could have brought Walcott on to maybe get another on the counter.
“The players never thought about the team success, they wanted to get on the scoresheet and they got the ultimate punishment tonight. As Mikel Arteta said it’s not acceptable for a team that wants to win and challenge for trophies at the highest level to be 3-0 up against that team and let them come back to get a draw.”