Arsenal must now beat Manchester United says Martin Keown

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The Independent Football

Martin Keown believes Arsenal need to defeat Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday to silence restless fans.

The Gunners bowed out of the Champions League last night with a 3-1 reverse in Barcelona meaning a 4-3 aggregate defeat.

And the club's former defender, who also won 43 England caps, acknowledges the pressure is on Arsene Wenger's side to put the defeat behind them quickly.

Keown told BBC Radio Five Live: "They're hurting but they've got to look ahead now, it's a very important game against Manchester United...what team will he (Wenger) pick?

"I feel he has to pick his strongest possible team because the fans may start to turn on the team a little bit.

"He has a five-year plan and this is the last year of it. They are now showing what they are capable of but if they don't win anything now he'll be buying players to add to the group."

On last night's match at the Nou Camp, Keown continued: "Barca were superb and you have to say they were on a different level.

"Tactically they are so hard to play against - but it was remarkable to see Arsenal dictated to in that fashion.

"They didn't give a good account of themselves - there was only one team in it from start to finish."

On the dismissal of Robin van Persie, for two yellow cards, Keown added: "His first booking was needless and you can't give the ref any opportunity.

"He was giving them every decision so it (the second yellow card, for time-wasting) fell into his hands really. It's hard enough trying to beat the best team in world with 11 men.

"But there doesn't seem to be any common-sense in the referees' rulebook these days - it killed it from an Arsenal point of view."

Keown acknowledged Cesc Fabregas "gifted" Barca their opening goal when he conceded possession cheaply on the edge of the Gunners' box, adding: "You don't expect him to be so loose in that position."

However, the 44-year-old said: "There were plusses for them. Jack Wilshere was superb, Samir Nasri was good and Abou Diaby improved as the game went on.

"Robin van Persie didn't look particularly fit and nor did Fabregas - but at least they came through the game.

"I can't think he (Wenger) will be using them so quickly at the weekend."