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Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, wearing a beatnik turtle-neck top, is criss-crossing the country for ‘essential work’

18 February, 2021 — By Richard Osley

Former Gunners defender Martin Keown showcases his keepy-uppy skills

THE government has not always been clear with its coronavirus rules over the past 12 months – but the current demand to stay at home and to only leave for work in the morning if it’s pretty much essential and cannot be done from your kitchen table seems to have sunk in now.

Whether you believe Martin Keown travelling to Barnsley, Swansea and Aston Villa over the past fortnight just so we could benefit from his incisive nuggets as a gantry co-commentator can truly be deemed as essential in the midst of a pandemic… well I’ll leave that with you.

No rules, of course, have been broken.

Either way, your ears are never far from Keown’s voice.

The man is an opinion grasshopper, flapping away on everything: Thomas Tuchel was too animated when Chelsea beat a lower league team in the cup; it would be a shame if Gareth Bale did not get back to his best; Liverpool aren’t as good without home supporters; and Patrick Vieira would be a great choice to be the next Bournemouth manager.

When you get up to go to the toilet in the night, don’t be surprised if he’s standing in the bath with ready advice on what the young lad needs to do to really step up to the next level. And if you think you’ve dodged him on Football Focus, no fear – he’ll pop up on BT Sport, providing you with another memory of how tough he was at Arsenal.

When I think of the “famous Arsenal back four”, it’s Dixon, Winterburn, Bould and Adams. It wasn’t a back five.

Wasn’t it so that the reason Keown wasn’t at Anfield in 1989 was that he had sulked off to Aston Villa and Everton?

The thing he is most remembered for at Arsenal, in fact, is the pterodactyl assault on Ruud Van Nistlerooy after the Manchester United striker missed a penalty.

That was comedy – enjoyable – but it’s no good turning up on television years later with studious glasses and a beatnik turtle neck top, expecting us to learn strategy from the serious soccer scholar now in front of us.

Still, the market research conducted at the BBC and BT Sport must show that you – the fans – want his opinion and who am I to dispute the need for 24-hour Keown?

When he was the special guest to open a new branch of B&Q a few years back – strangely he did keepy-uppies out the front, his not-so-obvious forte – one of my colleagues asked him what he thought of Arsenal’s progress.

But Keown, the man with a million opinions, was not willing to let one slip out for free… even for the little local paper. Sorry, that would be in breach of my column-writing for the Daily Mail, he told the reporter, as if some fuming editor at the mega-rich national would summon him in for a firing.

Instead, we heard about how great B&Q was.

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