Martin Keown admits Mikel Arteta Arsenal sack fears – "writing was on the wall"

Arsenal still have a chance of reaching the Europa League final after a 2-1 defeat against Villareal, and Martin Keown believes that's Mikel Arteta's only chance of keeping his job.

The Gunners' Europa League campaign has been a rare bright spot in their season, which has seen them slip to tenth in the Premier League table and crash out of both domestic cups.

Arsenal take a crucial away goal into next week's replay against Villareal, and know that a 1-0 win will take them through to the final – which will likely be played against Manchester United.

The pressure is on Arteta, who won the FA Cup at the end of his first half-season in charge of the club.

And Keown is fearful that the Gunners board will fire him at the end of the season if he doesn't at least deliver them a Europa League final.

Speaking to BT Sport's coverage of the game, Keown explained that he started to get worried for the former midfielder when he saw the line-up, which saw Arteta start without a recognised striker.

The pundit said: "It was an absolutely crazy, mad game.

"I thought at one stage the writing was on the wall for the manager.

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"The team, you think about the risks he took, not playing with a striker, partnerships all over the pitch, it just looked in total disarray."

Keown went on to predict that "big changes" will occur at the Emirates if things don't start improving soon.

He tore into the way Arsenal started the game at the Estadio de la Ceramica, and claimed: "You see what people are about when their backs are against the wall.

"That's happened before in this competition, it's been a rollercoaster season for Arsenal and Arsenal fans.

"That consistency just has not been there. We see the Premier League, tenth in the table, they have got to turn up for the second leg. If they don't, bad things will happen.

"There will be some big changes at the football club if they do not get through in the next round. Tonight's performance was alarming."

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