Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga did not have the best of returns to the starting eleven against Brighton at the weekend.
The 22-year-old came into the team for the injured Thomas Partey and he struggled to make an impact, with the midfield being overrun by the away side in the opening 45 minutes.
Manager Mikel Arteta had to move Granit Xhaka back into the middle of the park after the interval, and supporters on Twitter have been debating whether Lokonga deserves to be blamed for the problems that the Gunners faced:
You’re right to an extent but this boy made basic mistakes which no manager should be responsible for. Things like always looking over his shoulder, making space for the CBs to find passes to break the lines etc.
— Saleeq (@saleeq93) April 10, 2022
I saw the lineup and thought “what the heck is Arteta smoking”? And as I rightly expected, he was constantly lost in that 4-1-4-1 setup. Constantly surrounded by 2-3 opposition players which made it impossible for the CBs to feed him the ball. He was practically set up to fail.
— SdotiamNG (@sdotdvj) April 10, 2022
Maybe because he’s not good enough
— TK Gunner (@tumelo_manyama) April 10, 2022
Sambi wasn’t even close to the worst performer and I’d argue had some of the brighter moments out of everyone who played.
— Brian Rowland (@RowlandBrian31) April 10, 2022
The blame is entirely on the coach in my view. Integrate these players in games, let them get used even if its 20 minutes every game, once left alone they will have been accustomed to the challenges but isolating them then once in deep crisis you use them is a total failure
— @kasoasteve (@kasoasteve1) April 10, 2022
Shoulda played Xhaka as the 6 and Sambi as an 8.
— M-O-O-N (@wolvishlamb) April 10, 2022
As some fans have pointed out. Lokonga was given too much ground to cover and very little support. Both Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe were vacating the middle, leaving the Belgian with too many fires to put out.
You also have to remember that he has not started a game since the 0-0 draw against Burnley back in January, which was eleven weeks ago. Hopefully, he’ll be sharper and have a lot more support when Arsenal face Southampton on Saturday.