Martin Keown was full of praise for three Arsenal players after the Gunners continued their brilliant run against Aston Villa but said it was “ridiculous” to call his former club “title contenders” after just five games.
Arsenal maintained their perfect start to the season and maintained their place at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Villa.
Douglas Luiz’s corner beat Aaron Ramsdale to neutralize Gabriel Jesus’ opener in the first half, but Gabriel Martinelli ensured Villa’s comeback was short-lived as he scored a second-half winner.
Keown praised the “character and personality” Arsenal have shown to have five wins out of five, reserving particular praise for Albert Sambi Lokonga, Granit Xhaka and Kieran Tierney.
“It’s a fantastic run Arsenal are on at the moment,” Keown told BT Sport after Arsenal’s win at the Emirates. “I really enjoyed the character and personality they showed tonight.
“It could have fallen apart after Villa equalised, but Arsenal are going from strength to strength. I have to mention Lokonga, nobody really talked about him but he came in there with a couple of injuries and did really well.
‘Xhaka also in midfield, that was one of his best games for Arsenal. Tierney was great too, nobody talks about it [injured summer signing Oleksandr] Zinchenko tonight because of that performance.’
Arsenal’s superb start to the Premier League season has reignited excitement over a potential title challenge in north London.
Keown “hopes this will be the start or something special” at his former club but says it’s too early to see the Gunners as a real threat to holders Manchester City.
He added: “With this Arsenal team, it’s going step by step. It’s so early in the season it’s ridiculous [to call them title contenders]. It’s a new team but hopefully it’s the start of something special.”
While Arsenal remain top of the table, the defeat of Aston Villa keeps them second from bottom with three points from a possible 15.
A dejected Steven Gerrard said: “We’ve worked so hard to stay in the game and to stay at Arsenal. I think technically they were a level above for 45 minutes. Because of our technical level, we kept giving the ball back.”
Asked if he fears for his job after four losses in five games, Gerrard added: “Of course I do.
“I’m really honest and self-critical. If I stood here and said I wasn’t worried, you would be looking at me like I was from another planet.”
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