Arsenal legend Martin Keown has revealed why he chose not to include any Tottenham players in his combined north London derby XI.
In a Daily Mail article earlier this week, Keown stated that he would not take any Spurs player in a combined team – not even Harry Kane or Heung-Min Son.
The decision came back to bite – as these things sometimes do – with both players scoring as Tottenham closed the gap to one point on their north London neighbours with a convincing 3-0 win on Thursday night.
Two goals from Kane and another from Son put 10-man Arsenal to the sword after Rob Holding’s first-half dismissal for the Gunners.
Jim White and Simon Jordan grilled the former Arsenal defender on his reasons for omitting Spurs’ star duo and it all got a little bit heated.
Jim White: “Do you regret saying this week that you wouldn’t take any Spurs players in the Arsenal side?”
Martin Keown: “That was me standing up for an Arsenal team going into full cry in a battle in White Hart Lane; let’s get it on, I’m backing my players.”
JW: “So that was you standing up for Arsenal but you didn’t really mean it?”
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MK: “Of course, I’m standing up for Arsenal. Everybody knows the quality of Son and Kane and Kulusevski, who’s now come in. He’s come from Juventus.”
Simon Jordan: “Would you have those in your Arsenal side then?”
MK: “I wouldn’t have all three of them”
SJ: “But would you have any of them?”
MK: “I’d have two of them yes”
SJ: “So why would you write an article saying you’d have none of them then?”
MK: “Because I’m going into an article”
SJ: “But that’s not an article that’s an advertorial, what you’re doing is a biased..”
MK: Not really, not really. This is the biggest game in living memory”
White and Jordan continued to quiz the retired centre-back on why he had a change of heart with Keown standing his ground and staying close to his Arsenal roots.
SJ: “I would have thought your job would be to write an educated article?”
MK: “Sometimes we can be mischievous, Jim’s not the only one who can be mischievous and a little bit sensational”
JW: “Don’t turn it back at me, what you said in the Daily Mail then, you didn’t really mean?”
MK: “No I did mean it, I’m going into battle and I’ll support the players in the Arsenal team”
JW: “Now you’ve changed your tune post match”
MK: “But we all know the quality…”
JW: “You’re saying you wouldn’t have a Spurs player in your Arsenal side, Now you’d have two of them.”
MK: “I don’t like being asked to swap players; a consummate XI, I don’t like it, I don’t particularly like it. It was a question presented to me, I don’t write the questions, I just give the answers.”
JW: “Hang on a second, your line is pre-match you wouldn’t have had any Spurs players in your Arsenal side, post-match, you actually would?
MK: “No Jim, I’m just saying the context in which I was asked the question..”
SJ: “Was to be a cheerleader?”
MK: “We’re 24 hours before the game. Okay, look, lets go to battle with what we’ve got.
“Nketiah’s been magnificent, a revelation since he’s come into the team. We’ve got Saka on one side and Martinelli, They’re the future. I’m not gonna suddenly swap them out and they read that.”
SJ: “But they’re not listening to you. With the greatest respect in the world you’re not their coach you’re not their manager”
MK: “Well it doesn’t matter then does it?”
SJ: “Well then why wouldn’t you have the courage of your convictions?”
MK: “Because I believe in what Arsenal are trying to do and trying to achieve. I’m an Arsenal man against a Tottenham man.”
SJ: “But you didn’t believe what you said?”
MK: “I always believe what I say”
SJ: “Well then you’re deluded”
MK: “I believe it was right to say what I said at the moment, 24 hours before a game”
Arsenal will be assured of Champions League football next term if they win their two remaining games, against rejuvenated Newcastle and an Everton side fighting for survival.
Spurs have a home game with struggling Burnley followed by a final day trip to already relegated Norwich.
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