Jamie Carragher has branded Per Mertesacker’s performance in Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat at Stoke as unacceptable.
He (Mertesacker) is making himself as little as possible by turning his back. That is not acceptable for a player of his quality and experience.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, the former England defender called into question the captain’s leadership and highlighted the mistakes the German made as the Gunners fell three goals behind in the first half at the Britannia Stadium.
The final straw for the Sky Sports pundit came as Mertesacker turned his body away as Steven Nzonzi shot at goal with Carragher accusing the captain of "abandoning ship".
"When someone’s shooting, you try to make yourself as big as possible," he said.
"He's making himself as little as possible by turning his back. That is not acceptable for a player of his quality and experience.
"This is your captain on the day and you talk about leadership, you talk about the character that Wenger always goes on about after the game. He's abandoned ship.
"He’s left the young players on their own and abandoned ship. It’s just not acceptable."
Arsenal fielded a largely inexperienced defence against Mark Hughes' side and things immediately went wrong as a comedy of errors led to Peter Crouch’s opener after just 19 seconds.
Stoke flew into a 3-0 first-half lead, with Mertesacker’s positioning for the opening goals called into question, while Carragher also criticised the defender for failing to jump at the corner that led to the third goal.
And he says a player who has won 104 caps for Germany should have done more to help his younger colleagues.
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Carragher added: "If you look at the back four and the goalkeeper - Mertesacker's experience, the games he's played and the caps he's won, stands out.
"There are two teenagers there. I've been a young player and you need help but I've also been the older player, the experienced player trying to help young players.
"When you go into games like that, you know before the game you've got to play your own game on auto-pilot but you've got to play half their game for them. They're young lads. They're coming into the team at a difficult place in the Premier League away at Stoke.
"You have to help them but he didn't. You can see it throughout the goals on Saturday."