Arsenal news: Gary Neville calls defenders 'lazy' and believes Nacho Monreal is the problem

Neville was critical of the way Arsenal defended against City in their 2-1 defeat and believes something is 'fundamentally wrong' for the side to be exhausted this early in the season

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 20 December 2016 10:37
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Gary Neville has laid into Arsenal for their “lazy” approach in the 2-1 defeat by Manchester City and believes that something is “fundamentally wrong” at the club.

The former Manchester United defender was highly criticical of Arsenal in the wake of Sunday’s loss at the Etihad Stadium, which saw Arsenal lose a one-goal lead and put in one of their worst 45-minute displays in the second half.

Neville believes that there is something wrong within the Gunners, given their players looked drained after half-time, and he picked apart their defence for the two goals they conceded to Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.

“Arsenal's players look absolutely knackered, shot to pieces,” Neville said on Sky Sports. “It (the defending leading to City's second goal) was walking pace. You never walk on a football pitch.

“These players do normally put a shift in, they might not be the mentally toughest players in the world, but there is something fundamentally wrong.”

Mesut Özil came in for particular criticism on Sunday as Neville highlighted during live coverage of the match that he was walking when Arsenal didn’t have the ball. But Özil has often been found to neglect the defensive side of the game, and instead Neville focused on the back four where he believes the problem lies.

Neville in particular looked at Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin, who has been one of the club’s standout players over the last two years, and believes that he fell into a lull during the match because of the poor work rate of his fellow defenders Gabriel Paulista, Laurent Koscielny and, in particular, Nacho Monreal.

“The back four is lazy, no doubt. You always want your full backs going out and your wide player staying in,” Neville explained. “(Nacho) Monreal jogs, walks, plays as a third centre back and allows the young kid to do his job for him.

He added: “Bellerin was calm, collected and not pro-active.

“(Arsenal were) always too deep in the game because the two full backs and centre backs took the easy option and didn't do much running.

Neville paid close attention to Bellerin's work rate in the defeat by City

“The problem was the back four not being proactive enough, not being bold enough not brave enough, courageous enough.”

Arsenal now find themselves nine points behind league leaders Chelsea at Christmas, with the Blues on an 11-match winning streak that stretches back to Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Antonio Conte’s side at the Emirates in September.

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