Martin Keown has warned Arsenal they still remain underdogs to clinch a top four place
Martin Keown has warned Arsenal they still remain underdogs to clinch a top four place despite Saturday’s hugely encouraging win over Aston Villa.
The Gunners, who were comprehensively beaten by Liverpool in midweek, travelled to the Midlands without Gabriel Martinelli due to illness and injured first choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Despite those setbacks, Arsenal produced a composed display and comfortably clung to the advantage provided by Bukayo Saka’s first-half goal.
As a result, Arsenal moved four points clear of Manchester United with a game in hand, and six in front of north London rivals Tottenham.
Despite sitting in pole position, Arsenal legend Keown fears Spurs still remain favourites to clinch the final Champions League qualifying place given the respective run-ins of the two clubs.
Keown acknowledged the giant strides Arsenal have made under Arteta but fears they still need to show they can handle the pressure that accompanies the increased levels of expectancy.
He told BT Sport: ‘I think it’s about Arsenal rebuilding their reputation because you do that over many years. If people think you’re a soft touch at some point you fall over.
‘Now, people are getting a bit of taste of Arsenal, realising it’s stronger, totally different.
They’re playing this nice constructive football and going to be resilient. Gabriel today at the back was tight and strong, Ben White alongside him and Partey in front never really ventured too far. It’s nice and strong in those compartments.
‘Now there’s a lot of games ahead and I still put Spurs as favourites to make top four. Let’s see if they can do it. Arsenal, we have now got to see, but when I look at the fixtures and I see games away at Chelsea, Spurs, it’s tough. It’s in Arsenal’s hands and if they keep performing as they are they can do it.
‘I don’t want to put too much pressure on the Arsenal players. I said they are rebuilding their reputation and sometimes they’ve been guilty of too many pats on the back and they’ve lost concentration. Is it different now? They have to show it.
‘I like the look of the run-in for Spurs.’