Gary Neville says players have made Arsenal 'throw away' the title

‘You want leaders to spread composure and lift anxiety’: Gary Neville says Arsenal struggled ‘mentally’ as their title challenge imploded, as he criticises ‘over-celebration against Villa’ and singles out Zinchenko and Xhaka

  • Gary Neville blames certain player actions for Arsenal losing the title race
  • The pundit highlighted their over-celebration after beating Aston Villa 
  • Man City could win the title next weekend after Brighton beat the Gunners 

Gary Neville believes Arsenal have thrown away the title partially because of their exuberant celebrations earlier in the season, and not having the mentality to get the job done at the sticky end of the season.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners may see their chances of Premier League glory extinguished next weekend, after losing 3-0 to Brighton on Sunday. 

Several football pundits believe Arsenal have bottled it – having led the top-flight for most of the 2022-23 season – and even Arteta accepted the title race was over. 

Former Manchester United defender Neville, 48, also said that the North London side had ‘thrown away’ the trophy, and blamed certain elements of that on the players and their actions in key moments throughout the season.  

Speaking on Monday Night Football, Neville said: ‘I do think there is an element of throwing the title away in terms of dropping points. Look, in 2023 we don’t use the same emotive language. If this was the Kevin Keegan era this Arsenal team would be being criticised badly. At high performance level you have to perform. The biggest moments, the most pressurised environments, you have top deliver in those moments.’

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal saw their title race all but finished by a 3-0 defeat to Brighton on Sunday

Gary Neville told Monday Night Football that it was partially because of player actions

The former defender also singled-out some of the specific moments that showed why Arsenal went too far too quickly, without backing it up with the results necessary to see off Man City’s chase.

He cited wins against Aston Villa, as well as individual moments from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey as among those contributing to Arsenal’s high-profile downfall.  

‘The over-celebration against Villa, Zinchenko after Bournemouth, you want leaders in the team to spread composure and lift the anxiety,’ Neville said. 

‘There’s an element of emotion, Xhaka at Anfield, Partey’s form dropping off, and from that it’s become tough for them mentally.’

Neville added: ‘We never had them in the top four. I said a few weeks ago that this has been an exceptional season for Arsenal. 

‘The problem for some people is it doesn’t look like a good season and they’ll find it difficult themselves but I think it’s been an outstanding season.’

Oleksandr Zinchenko was singled out for his reaction during the Bournemouth match

Jamie Carragher said Arsenal’s lack of a top-quality centre-back had led to their downfall

Fellow pundit Jamie Carragher said Arsenal’s backline issues had been a contributing factor to their season, believing Arteta’s Gunners lacked a notable centre-back to join the canon of celebrated Premier League defenders.

Carragher said: ‘Defensively it’s been a massive drop off. When I think of Van Dijk, Vidic, Terry, Ferdinand, these figures, these big centre backs, and when I look at Arsenal’s centre backs I don’t think they have one of them yet.’ 

Arsenal’s recent form has seen them lose their top place in the Premier League – with draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton, as well as Sunday’s defeat.

Neville believes this recent form is a two-month spell which the Gunners will reflect upon where they should have performed better, and not let Man City sneak in.

Arsenal’s fate will be sealed next weekend with defeat, or if Manchester City beat Chelsea

Neville said: ‘I think other than the game against Man City, Arsenal are more than capable of getting results in all those games. It has been about mentality in the five to six week period. 

‘I think they’ll look at that run of games and regret it. They had a free run and they couldn’t be better positioned. They will look at that and feel really down about it thinking have they let the opportunity of a lifetime pass them? 

‘It’s just left them, everything has left them, and they haven’t got those experienced players to get them over the line.’

If Arsenal lose Saturday evening’s match at Nottingham Forest, then Manchester City will be crowned as the season’s champions. Otherwise, Man City just have to match the Gunners’ result when they host Chelsea the following day.  

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