This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking on talkSPORT, former West Ham man Martin Allen has suggested Laurent Koscielny’s saga in the summer was the “first sign of alarm bells” at Arsenal.
The Gunners have had a tumultuous start to the season, with Unai Emery’s side currently in sixth in the Premier League table, and already eight points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.
That has led to speculation the Spanish boss could have just a month to save his job at the club, and Allen has now pinpointed the north Londoners continuing troubles surrounding the armband as a major cause for concern.
He said: “I think they’ve got some ongoing issues there. Three captains in the last six months have all fallen out with the football club. In the summer Koscielny refused to go on the pre-season training camp, which was the first sign of alarm bells.
“Then Mesut Ozil captained Arsenal against Nottingham Forest and he got taken off after about 60 (sic) minutes, and he clearly had the hump. And now with Granit Xhaka and all the stuff going on with him. It is awful for that football club, as they are a club with great traditions.”
The Koscielny drama certainly came out of the blue from an Arsenal perspective. The Frenchman had been a fine servant for the club under the reign of Arsene Wenger, racking up 353 appearances across all competitions. So the moment he refused to go on the north London side’s pre-season tour certainly smacked of something slightly off.
Would Koscielny have taken such a desperate course of action had Wenger been in charge? Certainly a hypothetical question, but one that it is difficult to imagine he would have taken. Then the whole debacle surrounding Emery’s decision to let the players vote for Granit Xhaka as captain, and the fall-out from the now infamous Crystal Palace incident provides a snapshot of how the Arsenal boss’ reign has fallen apart.
It may have been one small chapter at the time, but it now does feel like Koscielny’s saga was the beginning of the end.