Ferdinand Hits Back at Arsenal Critics

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand in a tussle during a game against Arsenal in 2004

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand has hit back at Arsenal critics amid various pundits slating The Gunners, particularly Mikel Arteta, for debuting 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri, the youngest ever Premier League player.

Mikel Arteta was on the receiving end of some harsh criticism from talkSPORT presenter Jason Cundy for “not caring” about Nwaneri and making it all about himself.

However, Rio Ferdinand has come out to defend Arteta’s decision by conveying all the good things he’s heard about the boy, including comparing him to a certain young Manchester City star.

“There’s no doubting this kid’s ability. I’ve heard from coaches that are at the club and from various different people in the game at that level that there aren’t many 15-year-olds in the last 10 or so years that have got the ability that this guy’s shown on a consistent basis,” said Ferdinand on his YouTube channel.

“We are talking the Fodens of this world. At 15, he’s at a similar level they’re talking.”

High praise from one of, if not the best English defender in history.

Following Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Brentford last weekend, defender Gabriel tweeted “Nice kick about with the boys,” throwing shade at Ivan Toney who tweeted the same thing after the Bees’ win against the Gunners on the opening day of last season.

Toney gave his thoughts on Gabriel’s tweet during a press conference whilst on international duty with England. The striker labelled it as “cringey” before praising how much Arsenal have improved this season.

Former Man United defender Ferdinand shared his views on the online interaction. Speaking on his YouTube channel Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE, he said: “Do you know what? I loved Gabriel’s tweet. I loved that banter.

“Toney hammered them last season with his tweet, now it’s Arsenal’s turn. It was lovely, I love to see it. “If I was playing, that’s what I’d be doing all the time. I would be smoking people on Twitter before the game. I’d take the fines, I would.”

Ferdinand is clearly full of praise for Arsenal this campaign, unusual considering his Man United connections. However, it serves as an indication that maybe even rival fans are acknowledging an agenda towards Arsenal by the media, and that they feel some of the criticism directed at the Gunners is harsh.