Ian Wright has described Arsenal as an “absolute shambles” and expressed amazement that the club would sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea.
Gunners great Wright, the club’s second-highest scorer of all time, tore into the current crop of Arsenal stars after their 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool at Anfield.
He lamented Arsenal’s inability to get players to sign new contracts, with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both set to reach the end of their deals next summer, when they could then cash in on being free agents.
“If Sanchez and Ozil are free, they will be snapped up,” Wright said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “Why can’t we get these players to play for us? Why don’t they want to play for us?
“When you go through that list of everything that is going wrong, and you’ve got to throw in recruitment — whoever’s doing the recruitment, someone’s got to have a massive, massive word — it’s an absolute shambles and I’m really gutted for everybody involved.”
After learning of reports that Oxlade-Chamberlain could be on his way to the Premier League champions in a £35 million deal, Wright was at an even greater loss to explain Arsenal’s plight.
“The first thing I hear is that the Ox might be on his way to Chelsea, that’s disappointing news,” he said, adding: “Chelsea want him — Chelsea, the champions, will take him. That says we obviously have players that are good enough.”
The Liverpool defeat restored the pressure on Wenger, but Wright warned that the Frenchman “won’t quit” after signing a new two-year deal at the end of last season.
“He is literally a hermit to the game. He goes home and he’s probably on his phone. It’s all football and more importantly it’s all Arsenal. You do feel it’s almost like his blanket, his comfort blanket,” Wright said.
“If he’s not got Arsenal, I don’t know what would happen to him. I don’t know what to say about his future and what’s going to happen with him now.”
Wright added that Arsenal’s situation reached such a dismal low in the loss to Liverpool that he has found sympathy from supporters of other Premier League clubs.
“We got exactly what we deserved but I didn’t expect to see such a listless [performance] … the performance was terrible,” Wright said. “Watching Arsene Wenger on the bench playing with his hands at one stage, he looked very, very uncomfortable. It’s embarrassing.
“My mates — my Chelsea, Tottenham and Man United mates — they feel sorry for me.”
Meanwhile, Patrick Vieira, another former Arsenal star, has backed Wenger to pull the club out of their current predicament and accused critics of having short memories.
Wenger has led Arsenal to three Premier League titles in nearly 21 years at the helm, although the last came in 2003-04. The north London side has also won the FA Cup seven times during his reign.
“I have always admired Arsene,” the New York City FC manager told Press Association Sport prior to the defeat at Anfield. “Since I had the chance to work with him in 1997, I am not surprised [by his longevity].
“I think he is always putting the football club before himself. Everything he has been doing, he has been doing it for the football club and I don’t see any reason why he should leave the football club.
“I think he has been doing a fantastic job and sometimes people forget that.”
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey admitted Arsenal must change something following the Liverpool loss. It was the Gunners’ second successive Premier League defeat and left them, and Wenger, facing yet more searching questions.
He told the club’s website: “We’re going to have to change something if we’re to compete this year.
“Liverpool showed what it’s going to have to take to compete for the Premier League and we’re going to have to do something about it if we’re going to do that. We’re very disappointed with the way we performed.”
The Gunners, whose only victory this term was a frenetic 4-3 defeat of Leicester, now have the best part of a fortnight, due to an international break, to take stock of their situation.
Ramsey said: “Most of the squad go away now, so when we get back we’ll have to review that and hopefully we can move on and sort it out.”