'I feel for him' - Martin Keown identifies 'vulnerable' Arsenal player who could be 'exposed' by Newcastle United star

Martin Keown has argued that Newcastle United winger Allan Saint-Maximin could cause real problems for Arsenal’s deputising left-back Granit Xhaka when the two sides meet on Sunday.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 11:00 am
Granit Xhaka of Arsenal. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Granit Xhaka of Arsenal. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

The Swiss midfielder, who has been filling in at full-back in the absence of summer signing Kieran Tierney, endured a torrid outing in the Gunners’ Europa League semi-final defeat against Villarreal in midweek.

In particular, Xhaka seemed to flounder when faced with the pace of wide man Samuel Chukwueze, and Keown believes that notoriously tricky Toon winger Saint-Maximin can give him a similar headache at St. James’ Park.

Writing in a column for the Daily Mail, the pundit said: “Another key issue, which may well be highlighted against Newcastle tomorrow, is at left back.

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"Granit Xhaka does not deserve to be getting the blame. I feel for him. He's a midfielder being told to play at left back by his manager in Kieran Tierney's absence.

“Xhaka played well there against Sheffield United, and Arsenal kept their first clean sheet for 13 games. But he has since been left exposed by higher-quality opponents, such as Richarlison for Everton and Samuel Chukwueze for Villarreal. He could now face Newcastle's in-form Allan Saint-Maximin

“Let's not even go into how a club like Arsenal, whose owners wanted them in the closed-shop European Super League, finds itself without a back-up left back.

“Villarreal boss Unai Emery identified Xhaka at left back and Dani Ceballos on the left of a midfield two as the vulnerable area in Arteta's side on Thursday.”