Theo Walcott doubts whether Mikel Arteta trusts certain Arsenal stars after Porto defeat | Football

Mikel Arteta and Arsenal slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Porto (AFP via Getty)

Theo Walcott believes Mikel Arteta may have trust issues with some of his Arsenal players following their 1-0 defeat to Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday evening.

The Gunners appeared to be on course for a goalless draw in their last-16 first-leg tie in Portugal but Porto capitalised on a loose pass from Gabriel Martinelli in injury time to win the game through Galeno’s curled effort from outside the box.

Arteta made just one substitute during the game as Jorginho replaced Leandro Trossard with 16 minutes remaining, while Porto made four subs in the second half as they pushed for the winning goal.

Former Arsenal forward Walcott believes Arteta’s decision to keep all but one player on the bench could suggest a trust issue with some of his fringe players as Mohamed Elneny, Fabio Vieira, Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah were among those who were not brought on in the second half.

‘I remember being in this certain position before and being subbed as a forward player,’ Walcott said on BBC Radio Five Live.

‘Martinelli, for instance, could be tired, he’s worked a lot, he’s worked really hard, tracking his full-back quite a lot tonight. Of course, yes, lazy pass, loses the ball [for Porto’s goal], but then I’ve just got to question this squad depth of Arsenal at the start of the game – does Mikel trust the players?

Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal shows a look of dejection after the winning goal by Wenderson Galeno

Gabriel Martinelli gave the ball away in the build-up to Porto’s winning goal against Arsenal (Shutterstock)

‘He only brought on one sub tonight and I just feel it could’ve been a game where we completely just shut up shop, maybe just slow it down even slower than it was and take off certain players, obviously [Bukayo] Saka wasn’t as effective tonight.

‘It’ll be completely different at the Emirates, I’m sure, but as a coach would you feel you’d want to make more subs knowing that the game is stagnating?

‘It’s a tricky one because with Arsenal obviously Mikel always tends to play the same team, you always know who will be playing, same sort of substitutes come on, but yes, maybe, the lack of experience in the Champions League with certain players, but you’ve got your likes of [Mohamed] Elneny who has been around the club and has been the longest-serving player for a long time now, where he’s smart in the game, knows how to slow it down, Jorginho, of course, comes on and is experienced enough.

‘It’s all happened by Martinelli being slightly tired, it is what is is, but again I have to question the position of the keeper as well. I think he’s done brilliantly at times but I think you can question certain positions.’

Despite the defeat in the first leg, Walcott believes Arsenal will ‘comfortably’ progress to the Champions League quarter final.

‘I still feel like the Emirates is a really bouncy place to be involved in, I think they will go through and I don’t think it will be as narrow as tonight,’ Walcott said.

‘It [the first leg] was always going to be narrow. Very, very tight, of course it was, these games always are.

‘These games aren’t won over one leg. I’ve been in this situation before where you’ve gone to a place like this and not got the result you’ve wanted or you’ve managed to nick an away goal, obviously that doesn’t factor in this stage.

‘But I’m still confident Arsenal, with the home support particularly, the way the Emirates is at this moment in time, that they will be able to go through quite comfortably, to be honest, I really do, I don’t think it’ll be as tight as this tonight. I think it’ll be more open.’

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