Arsene Wenger defended Jack Wilshere after Roy Keane labelled the Arsenal midfield "probably the most over-rated player on the planet".
Arsenal slumped to an embarrassing 2-1 defeat at home to Ostersunds in the Europa League on Thursday, advancing to the last 16 by virtue of a 3-0 win in the away leg.
Wenger shuffled his starting XI with an eye on Sunday's EFL Cup final against Manchester City but Wilshere captained the side and conceded afterwards the Gunners "weren't good enough".
That did not spare the 26-year-old - who has re-established himself at Arsenal this season after a year on loan at Bournemouth and persistent injury struggles - from Keane's wrath.
Speaking on ITV, the former Manchester United great said: "You look for your senior players to lead by example…when Wilshere is your captain, to me, he is probably the most over-rated player on the planet."
Wenger adopted a weary tone when the matter was raised at his news conference to preview the EFL Cup final.
"Who said that?" he asked before exhaling at length when informed Keane was the pundit in question.
"It's very difficult. I personally rate Jack very highly," he answered. "After that, you can have opinions.
"Jack was in a team that did not perform well, so it was not easy for him.
"It was not his best performance but Roy Keane knows that can happen to everybody."
One midfielder who does not have to look too far for praise this season is Kevin De Bruyne.
The Manchester City star has been a key factor in Pep Guardiola's side establishing a dominant 16-point lead in the Premier League and is viewed as a front-runner for the end-of-season awards in England.
"He's had an exceptional development," Wenger said. "One of the big strengths of Manchester City is De Bruyne.
"He is a modern midfielder for me, he can be decisive in the final third.
"He works very hard; he is right footed, left footed, a fighter as well. Overall, I am not surprised [by De Bryune's performances]."
Wenger added: "They have so many players that you could think about how to stop that it is better you focus on the team plan rather than any individual."
|Villarreal defender Semedo denied bail on attempted murder charge|
|Boots up! - Pietersen career seemingly only|
|Messi: I´m a less selfish player|
|F1 2018 Pre-Season Report: Williams|
|F1 2018 Pre-Season Report: Renault|
|Thunder claim key win, injury-ravaged Warriors fall to Kings|
|Japanese sensation Osaka blitzes Halep en route to decider|
|Giant-slaying Kasatkina upstages Venus to reach Indian Wells final|
|Coaching Italy would be extraordinary – Mancini|
|J.J. Watt breaks news of Tyrann Mathieu´s deal with Texans|
|Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount joins Lions|
|Intensity key to Liverpool toppling Man City, says Klopp|
|Warriors star Durant to miss at least two weeks with rib injury|
|Doc Rivers fined $15,000 for calling officiating ´complete joke´|
|Ravens sign WR Michael Crabtree to three-year deal|
|Tiger stumbles as Stenson and DeChambeau move clear|
|Tiger Woods: I just tried not to shoot myself out of tournament|
|Del Potro to meet Raonic in semis|
|People listen to idiots - Mourinho cites ´dictionary of life´ in extraordinary rant|
|Mourinho tells struggling Manchester United stars to ´grow up´|
|Woods seven off Bay Hill lead after level-par second round|
|Real Madrid links ´massage the ego´ of Roma goalkeeper Alisson|
|Defending champions Rhinos end Saints´ unbeaten start|
|Pele impressed by Tite´s ability to cope with Brazil´s modern challenges|
|Duhan at the double to boost Edinburgh´s playoff hopes|
|FIFA Council approves open vote for 2026 World Cup|
|McIlroy in love with golf again ahead of Augusta challenge|
|Vikings sign DT Sheldon Richardson|
|FIFA approves VAR use at World Cup|
|Sampaoli ignores Icardi and Dybala, adds Correa to Argentina squad|
|Vikings celebrate Cousins capture as AFC lags behind in NFL ´arms´ race|
|Neymar to Real Madrid? Ask Florentino Perez, says Emery|
|Pogba not as good as Kondogbia - Valencia boss Marcelino|
|Buffon: Most determined team will win Juventus-Madrid tie|
|Inter target Martinez likened to Aguero by Crespo|
|Dortmund boss Stoger defends Gotze criticism|
|Chaos in Colombo as Mahmudullah blasts Tigers into final|
|Filipe Luis relishes overcoming ´obstacle´ as broken leg rules him out for two months|
|Blind cut from Koeman´s first Netherlands squad|
|Australia aim to find an answer to counter ´fantastic´ De Villiers|
|Stenson & DeChambeau tied for Arnold Palmer Invitational lead|
|Huddersfield wrap up permanent Lossl deal|
|Liverpool versus City promises goals, Juve plot Madrid revenge - Champions League quarter-finals in|
|Sharapova to miss Miami with forearm injury|
|Valencia midfielder Coquelin suffers torn Achilles|
|I could be in a league that´s won before kick-off – The best quotes from Mourinho´s tirade|
|Pardew fights on after West Brom talks|
|Juanfran hamstring injury adds to Atletico Madrid´s problems|
|Bayern can expect ´fiery atmosphere´ at Leipzig, says Hasenhuttl|
|Ruining Ireland´s Grand Slam bid won´t be England´s focus - Moody|
|Hughes encouraged by Southampton start|
|Juventus not thinking about Real Madrid just yet, Allegri claims|
|Morata has good World Cup chance despite being dropped, Lopetegui confirms|
|Foul-mouthed Klopp fumes at Premier League scheduling around Man City tie|
|Heynckes: Bayern have no interest in Malcom|
|Stenson makes Bay Hill turn with two-shot lead|
|Butragueno wary of Juventus ahead of titanic Real Madrid tussle|
|Liverpool-City a dream draw for Man Utd fans - Klopp|
|Alun Wyn Jones unimpressed with Eddie Jones comments|
|I won´t run away or cry - Mourinho delivers impassioned defence of Man Utd tenure|
|Emery demands focus from PSG after Champions League exit|
|Door still open for Reus and Gotze, says Low|
|Juventus can cause Real Madrid trouble, says Nedved|
|Javi Martinez, Fabregas, Morata absent from Spain squad, Marcos Alonso in|
|No preference on potential Barcelona-Real Madrid tie for Amor|
|Bayern can´t celebrate already - Heynckes wary of Sevilla threat|
|Narine reported for suspect bowling action|
|Marcos Rojo renews with Manchester United until 2021|
|Monday hearing for banned Rabada|
|Bayern´s Ulreich warned about ´witch´s cauldron´ at Sevilla|