Arsenal have been slammed for the way they defended their FA Cup crown after they were knocked out in the fourth round by Southampton.
The Gunners were beaten 1-0 as ex-Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker-Peters’ strike across the six-yard box was nudged into the goal by defender Gabriel.
Mikel Arteta’s men were not at full strength for the game with Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, and Kieran Tierney among those missing from the starting XI.
A turn up in form had preceded the defeat but rather than the Spanish boss continuing to play a strong side and go with the momentum, he opted to mix it up and a number of players looked off the pace allowing Southampton to profit and make the fifth round.
Former England international Trevor Sinclair couldn’t believe how bad Arsenal’s attempt to retain the trophy they won last August was.
“What a terrible defence of the title,” he said on talkSPORT.
“Seriously, they did so well against Manchester City last season in the semi-finals, went to the final, beat Chelsea and then defended it like that. That is pathetic.
“I think Arsenal fans will be fuming about the way they have gone out. They didn’t put their strongest side out and that’s really poor, I feel, from Arteta, playing that team.”
He later added: “It’s not a Mickey Mouse competition. It is probably the best cup competition in the world. They’re the champions, defend it.
“For me, what makes it even more confusing is the run that Arteta has just had, where he was having bad results and people were getting on his back and he was under pressure, one of the reasons he probably kept his job is because he won the FA Cup. Be loyal to it. Give it the credit it deserves.”
And while Sinclair is an outsider to the Gunners, his views were echoed on talkSPORT by club legend Ray Parlour.
“You have to put out a strong side,” said the four-time FA Cup winner with Arsenal.
“You know Southampton are in good form, they’re an excellent side this season and they were always going to put out a strong side, and I expected that from Arsenal.
“There’s nothing like winning games of football, so carry that on, put your strongest team out!
“I know they’re looking at the league, but the FA Cup is very important, it certainly was in my era, when I played under Arsene Wenger he put a strong side out in most cup games.
“But Arteta rested a lot of players today. I would have played my best team, get in front, and then rotate your players in the second-half. First and foremost, you have to make sure you win the game.
“It really baffles me. Clubs in mid-table, teams that can’t win the title but aren’t going to be relegated, why do they rest players in the cup? I just don’t get it!
“It’s the FA Cup, the best tournament in the world, but now Arsenal are out, so they have to concentrate on the league.”