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.
Son and Kane proved Keown wrong – but the Arsenal hero has his reasons for not naming them in his combined XI
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?”
Arsenal were convincingly beaten at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on ThursdayGetty
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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.
Keown lauded the recent form of Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiahgetty
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.”
Six points from their last two games will still guarantee Champions League football for ArsenalGetty
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 have to quickly regroup in their battle for Champions League qualificationGetty
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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