Roy Keane suggested Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta took a huge gamble with his team selection as the Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City.
Nathan Ake proved the unlikely match-winner as City edged out title rivals Arsenal 1-0 in a tense FA Cup fourth-round tie on Friday.
The Netherlands defender steered home a low shot in the 64th minute at the Etihad Stadium as City landed the first blow in their trilogy of clashes with the Gunners over the coming months.
Arsenal, the Premier League leaders, had enjoyed the better of the first half, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard both forcing good saves from Stefan Ortega.
Yet, while much had been made of the growing touchline rivalry between City manager Pep Guardiola and his former assistant Mikel Arteta, for a seventh time in eight meetings it was ultimately the old master who prevailed.
Despite their defeat, Arsenal matched City for long periods of the game, even though Keane suggested Arteta took too much of a gamble by making a host of changes to his line-up.
"Huge gamble, to make so many changes - especially in defensive positions, the goalkeeper,” Keane told ITV Sport.
"You could probably make one or two but that’s a huge gamble to make so many changes at the back, especially with the attacking players obviously Man City have got.
"Of course the priority for Arsenal because they’ve had such a great start is the league, but to make so many changes defensively, people are talking about the priorities, but it’s still January. They’ve got no midweek game coming up, huge risk.”
Arsenal boss Arteta will take comfort from a game that was in the balance until the final whistle, as he admitted an early FA Cup exit was a blow.
"Really disappointed. I think we could have got much more out of the game,” he said.
"The action decided the game but it was a tight game and that one action changed it all. I think we could have dealt with it much better in terms of our discipline when the ball was in the box.
"We had big situations in the game and we didn't put them away. We can take a lot of positives, I think the way we approached the game and competed. It is really difficult to win against this team but we went head to head with them.
"In the big moments, in big matches you have the make the difference. That is how you win these games."
City boss Pep Guardiola praised Arsenal’s performance as he conceded Arsenal are not a threat to his side in all competition.
“We were definitely better in the second half. Arsenal have taken a step forward," he said.
"It was a tight game and you realise how good a side they are. I did not expect the approach from them – man-to man – it was difficult to build up but we beat the team at the top of the league and are in the next round.”