Arsenal star slammed for ‘jumping out of tackles’ during Aston Villa loss | Football

Paul Merson was on punditry duty for Arsenal v Aston Villa (Picture: Sky Sports)

Paul Merson slammed Ben White for ‘jumping out of tackles’ during Arsenal’s Premier League defeat to Aston Villa.

After Liverpool’s shock defeat to Crystal Palace earlier in the day, the Gunners knew victory over Villa would send them back to the top of the table.

But Arsenal never seized control against an impressive Villa side and ex-Gunners boss Unai Emery returned to the Emirates Stadium to haunt his former club and put a massive dent in their title hopes.

It looked as though the entertaining Premier League fixture would end goalless but the visitors scored twice in the final six minutes to condemn Arsenal to their fifth league defeat of the season.

Arsenal and Liverpool’s setbacks mean Manchester City are two points clear at the top of the table with six games remaining.

Merson said the title race was ‘done’ after Sunday’s shock results and criticised Arsenal for failing to seize the moment on another crucial day for the title race.

The Arsenal legend singled out White for criticism, claiming he was ‘jumping out of tackles’ during the potentially costly Aston Villa loss.

Ben White in action during the Aston Villa defeat

Ben White in action during the Aston Villa defeat (Picture: Getty)

‘There was a time when Ben White jumped out of a tackle before coming off,’ an animated Merson said on Sky Sports. ‘You’ve got to stop these things.

‘These chances come around not too many chances in a lifetime of winning the league and you’ve got to get out there and stop that.  

‘Ben White is jumping out of a tackle, he’s a defender jumping out. You don’t get these chances. You go home tonight and think that’s gone.

‘For me, it’s gone. You’ve worked that hard for 32 games to go that extra yard, just one yard to stop that cross.’

White has been one of Arsenal’s most reliable performers this season but may have been struggling with an injury before being replaced in the second half.

Gary Neville suspected the England international was injured after ‘pulling out’ of a tackle shortly before his substitution.

‘Ben White pulled out of a 50/50 with McGinn probably about two minutes ago and I was wondering if there was something up with him,’ the Manchester United legend said on commentary for Sky Sports.

‘It may be tactical but I thought it was a strange thing for Ben White to do. It doesn’t look like he’s limping or carrying anything.’

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