Gary Neville has blasted Arsenal’s lackluster display saying it’s impossible for Arteta to solve the Gunners problems without signing “ice cold” defenders to replace Luiz, Mustafi, and Sokratis.
Arsenal has lost both of their games since the Premier League resumption with a “gloomy” display in Manchester as they were swept aside 3-0. As if not enough, the Gunners had a further embarrassing performance at Brighton where they lost 2-1.
Despite the three months lay-off, Arsenal’s defensive frailties have not been addressed. For this reason, Neville has urged Arteta to abandon his error-prone defenders.
“You just can’t trust Arsenal. You haven’t been able to for years”. Neville said.
“Mikel-Arteta, we should still say the shape Arsenal are playing, the shape they have defensively, I think is better than it was previously. But the individuals within that will let you down”.
“It doesn’t matter how well you coach the shape. If you get exposed one on one or defenders make mistakes as we saw in that game against Man City and Brighton, then you’re going to get punished”.
“They just need defenders with better concentration.”
The City defeat last Wednesday saw the spotlight shine on David Luiz who failed to clear a speculative through ball by De Bruyne allowing Sterling to capitalize and earn the hosts a lead.
The Brazilian then saw red early on in the second half after giving away a penalty when he dragged Mahrez down after the Algerian stole a march on the accident-prone defender.
Arsenal fans had hoped that Luiz’s three-match suspension may actually come as a boost for the Gunners with Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi stepping in as the central defensive pair.
However, the frailties came to the fore once again. A late strike from Neal Maupay handed Arteta’s side an embarrassing defeat by Seagulls.
Neville singled out experienced defender Luiz, Mustafi, and Sokratis for criticism. He noted the trio often fail to display the “ice cold” attributes required for a top-level defender.
He said, “you are going to make mistakes as a goalkeeper and defender but it’s then that second mistake. That one where you try to win it back and you give that penalty away. It’s where you try to win it and you can’t win it”.
‘It’s just dropping your ego really sometimes as a defender. Delaying helps because your team-mates sometimes get back.
‘You get too many defenders who try to win the first ball, who try and dive in and we’ve seen that with Arsenal’s defenders over the years – with David Luiz and Mustafi, Sokratis when he plays.
‘They dive in, they like to challenge where it’s not there to challenge, they feel they have to win the ball and sometimes it’s not there to win.’
The pair of defeats puts a huge dent in Arsenal’s hopes of securing European football next season, with the Gunners sat in 10th place in the Premier League, six points behind Wolves in sixth place.
With Pablo Mari out until November, Arteta will have to rely on his unconvincing defensive charges for the remainder of the season. Arsenal next faces Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium on Thursday evening.