Gary Neville condemns FOUR Arsenal stars for failing to ‘pull the team together’ and insists the senior players ‘contributed to the difficulties’ that has seen the Premier League title now in Man City’s hands
- Gary Neville called out four Arsenal stars for their performances in recent games
- Neville questioned Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko leadership skills
- The former Man United star also criticised Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka
Gary Neville has named four senior Arsenal players who he believes have contributed to the club’s recent collapse in form.
After mounting an unexpected charge towards Premier League glory from the opening day of the season, the Gunners’ momentum has halted significantly in recent weeks, allowing Manchester City to claw their way back into the title race.
Mikel Arteta’s side surrendered an early two-goal lead at Anfield to drop points for the first time February and bring an end to a run of seven consecutive Premier League victories.
Successive draws against relegation-threatened West Ham and Southampton only further deteriorated the club’s lead at the the top of league, before defeat to City on Wednesday paved a way for Pep Guardiola’s side to retake the top spot.
Speaking on The Overlap, Neville explained that the team’s poor run of form at such a decisive part of the season is down to the failures of senior talents and a lack of leadership.
Gary Neville questioned the leadership of Arsenal’s senior players after their recent collapse
‘I look at Martin Odegaard, fantastic professional. Oleksandr Zinchenko, great professional. But when you actually get to the highest pressurised moments in the biggest matches in the crux of the season, are they leaders then?
‘Arsenal’s senior players, Partey, Zinchenko, Odegaard, in the most difficult period – when those younger players like Saka and Martinelli needed that guidance, Jesus needed telling to stop running around and just stand up front and be really disciplined in how you play – they didn’t impact the rest of their teammates on the pitch, I don’t believe.
‘In fact, they contributed to the difficulties they were having in the matches.
‘Xhaka at Anfield [referring to the incident with Trent Alexander-Arnold], Partey’s performances in the last few games, I think Zinchenko gave a goal away in one game as well – the Liverpool game and maybe West Ham as well – and Odegaard had probably his most difficult game as well against Manchester City.
‘And then if you think of the huddle that Zinchenko did [against Southampton] and then Odegaard came over and said, “Break up”.
‘So those four players that are the leaders in that team have not been able – at the moment those younger players needed it – to really pull them together and keep them calm and composed. That to me has been apparent these last few weeks.’
Neville continued: ‘In the first 10 minutes against West Ham, Arsenal’s back four would split, they were deep for a throw in, they’d get on the ball, they’d be in their shape, they’d play out from the back in their pattern.
‘What happened in the second half when it got tough, they started just to push up the pitch, they got really clammy and tense, they didn’t do the things they were doing [in the first half].
‘So what you then need is someone on the pitch who says, “Hang on a minute, slow down, split our back four, get the full-backs wide, get your midfield players split, get Saka and Martinelli high and wide, do the things that you’ve been doing!”
Mikel Arteta’s side have failed to win any of their last four Premier League fixtures
The former Manchester United star also singled out Granit Xhaka for his clash with Trent Alexander-Arnold
‘Now that leadership can come on the pitch or it can come from off the pitch, but someone has to interfere when a game is going against you.
‘In the most difficult moments in the last four games Arsenal have had, I’ve not seen anybody really composing the team. They’ve started to do things they hadn’t done all season.’
Arsenal will look to continue their title challenge when they host FranK Lampard’s struggling Chelsea on Tuesday.
Man City meanwhile will go top of the Premier League if they defeat Fulham at Craven Cottage tomorrow.
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