Bukayo Saka ‘wasn’t really himself’ in Arsenal’s defeat to Porto, says Martin Keown
Posted by  badge Boss on Feb 22
Bukayo Saka was ineffective in Arsenal’s first leg against Porto (Picture: Getty)

Martin Keown said ‘wasn’t really himself’ in the wake of Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Porto in the Champions League, with the winger ‘giving the ball away’ too often across the last-16 first leg.

The Estadio do Dragao clash had looked to be heading for a goalless stalemate before Galeno beat with a dramatic long-range effort in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

The Gunners were earlier given an enormous let off after Galeno struck the post before somehow firing the rebound wide of the up right with a wild shot in the 21st minute.

It leaves the tie finely poised ahead of the sides’ second meeting in north London on March, but ’s men must pick themselves up for a pair of tough matches against Newcastle and Sheffield United in the meantime.

Speaking to TNT Sports shortly after the final whistle, Keown claimed a below-par Arsenal were ‘wasteful’ and picked out Saka’s ineffective performance as a particular concern for Arteta.

‘They were [wasteful],’ the former Arsenal and England defender said.

‘It seems as if they don’t start the game full on and with that confidence it affects them then in the second half and that’s what certainly happened today.

‘Saka wasn’t really himself, they didn’t get as many touches and when they did it broke down too many times.

Galeno stunned Arsenal with a late strike at the Estadio do Dragao (Picture: Getty)

Saka racked up three goals and four assists in the group stage – the joint-best tally in the competition alongside Porto’s Galeno – and Keown felt the England international strayed away from his usual game in Portugal.

‘It’s not something he does that often, slinging it in. He usually cuts inside and you expect more,’ Keown added.

‘You’ve grown so used to seeing these guys [create chances].

‘But Saka was giving the ball away and that’s just not him.’

Keown remains confident Arsenal will progress past Porto (Picture: Getty)

Keown said Arteta’s players may have been suffering with ‘fatigue’ at the Estadio do Dragao but was confident Arsenal would raise their game in the second leg.

‘It was a harsh lesson for Arteta and his team and he talked about attacking better and showing more aggression and they’re quick learners,’ he went on.

‘They are young in this competition as manager and as players and I think they’ll learn quickly and do much better in the return leg.

‘They can’t play this badly again. It was a professional performance because the defence really did a good job until the goal and there are question marks.

‘Was the keeper a bit too low? Could Declan Rice have gone a bit higher, could he have pressed a little bit?

‘I think there was a little bit of fatigue there but there’s still plenty to go in this tie yet.’

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