By 90Min
August 23, 2019

Martin Keown has claimed Arsene Wenger attempted to replicate Pep Guardiola's Barcelona during the latter years of his Arsenal career. 

The Gunners are currently preparing for Saturday's clash with Liverpool at Anfield, with both sides victorious in their opening two Premier League games ahead of the game.

Former centre back Keown insists Wenger reaped the benefits of George Graham's defensive structure from the 1990s, but claims he moved too far in the opposite direction after the 2006 Champions League final, prioritising small, technical players while ignoring more physical ones. 

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Speaking to Sky Sports at the McDonald's Grassroots Awards, Keown explained: ''Things evolved from George Graham to Arsene Wenger. There was a habit of behaviour, shall we say, among certain individuals that was created by George Graham.

''Then, of course, when Arsene Wenger came in it was more expressive with an emphasis on creation. But it is quite right that you look to retain an identity as a club. You could say that once they reached the Champions League final in 2006 there were none of the old Arsenal defenders around.

''Nonetheless, the ones that were there picked up habits from the ones that were there before. So you do get that succession plan with players and that culture that runs through the club. The balance between physicality against technical players went too far one way.

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''I think it was done in pursuit of trying to match the excellence of Barcelona, which is the team Wenger wanted to copy most of all. The balance at Arsenal was lost.

''Unai Emery is trying to get that back but he needs to get a better balance to the group because they forgot how to defend and for 50% of every game, you are going to be without the ball. It is still their Achilles heel, particularly away from home.''

Unai Emery will be hoping to see a more resilient performance on Saturday than the 5-1 humiliation suffered at the hands of Liverpool last season, which provided flashbacks to Wenger's latter years in charge. 

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