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Arsenal icon Martin Keown has claimed that Mikel Arteta’s tactics during the 2-1 defeat to Villarreal could have got him sacked.

The Gunners were facing Europa League heartbreak after they went 2-0 down inside 30 minutes in the first leg of their semi-final this week.

And club legend Keown admitted that Arsenal’s comeback after their manager’s line-up gamble backfired may have saved the Spaniard’s job.

He wrote in his column for the Mail: “Mikel Arteta’s tactics and decision-making on Thursday should have sent Arsenal crashing out of Europe and possibly ended his managerial career at the club.

“However, remarkably and thanks to that late penalty won by Bukayo Saka, Arsenal find themselves still very much in this tie against Villarreal.

“Arteta is being afforded the rare commodity of time and now he’s the beneficiary of an even rarer occurrence: a second chance. And this is one he really has to take.

“Arteta experimented with a false nine on Thursday, lining up without a recognised centre forward.

“Playing with that new formation for the first time in the biggest game of the season was a big ask of the players and a huge gamble. It didn’t pay off.”

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