Gary Neville has blamed Arsenal’s leadership group over the club’s recent run of poor results and feels they have contributed directly to the collapse of their bid to claim Premier League glory.
Mikel Arteta’s men have sat at the top of the Premier League table for the majority of the season but have started to crumble as the finishing line draws near, failing to win any of their last four matches – with just three points taken from a possible 12.
Indeed, a brace of victories from Manchester City from their two games in hand will see them go four points clear at the top.
And when Arsenal needed a quartet of their senior men to step up to the plate, Neville feels they have gone missing. Indeed, it’s been recently reported that the club are considering selling one of their more experienced stars this summer.
Speaking on The Overlap, he said: “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 team-mates on the pitch, I don’t believe.
“In fact, they contributed to the difficulties they were having in the matches.
“Xhaka at Anfield [when he squared up to 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 claims Arsenal not coping with the pressure
Neville also feels the Gunners are not coping with the pressure of playing for the big prize when it matters most. Indeed, he cited the West Ham game as a good example of why things are going wrong.
The former England full-back added: “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!”
“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.”
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