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Football Reporting


Man United legend Gary Neville tears into Arsenal’s ‘little mafia’ after crushing Liverpool defeat

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has not minced his words about Arsenal’s “little mafia” of attacking players after their crushing 3-0 loss to Liverpool on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta’s side were subjected to their 12th Premier League defeat of the season – with a trip to Chelsea still to come – and rarely even had a chance to get into the champions’ half, despite Jurgen Klopp’s men’s poor form of their own in recent months.

“I was alarmed,” Neville said on Sky Sports.

“Ordinarily on a Monday Night Football you come into this, you plan what you’re going to do and we know Arsenal are inconsistent, we know where Arsenal are in their transition under Mikel Arteta.

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“You don’t ordinarily think it’s going to stand out but, I have to say, at half-time on Saturday I was really uncomfortable with what I’d seen.

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“At the end of the game I did something I don’t ordinarily do, I normally just get straight off as soon as the game finishes, but I sat around for a bit with [fellow Sky Sports commentator] Martin Tyler and just said ‘what was that’?

“I was really uncomfortable with what I saw. There have been a number of the times in the past few years where we’ve been doing Monday Night Football that my anger has sort of emerged and grown over the couple of days since the game.

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“It happens very rarely. I remember QPR, in the early days of Monday Night Football, had a team I really didn’t like. I think it was Sunderland once where I thought, ‘there’s something not right there’, there are a couple of Chelsea performances where I thought they were turning on the manager at a certain point.

I have to say, coming out of Saturday, we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at Arsenal but there were a few of those players on the front part of the pitch, it looked like a little mafia.

“It looked like a little group of players who weren’t comfortable, like there was a disconnect with them and the manager.

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“Like the manager looked like he’d had enough of them, like he had that glazed-eye look.

“Look, it’s instinct but we’ve been around football now quite a long time to know when a group of players are disinterested.

“We could be completely wrong and next week we could be talking about how great they are.

“The shape under Mikel Arteta has been really good. That back four pushes up to a really good line, they have a compact 30-35 metres always between them.

“I said in the second half, me and Martin Tyler could’ve played centre-back for Liverpool. They were really comfortable but they never laid a finger on them, they were under no pressure and it was embarrassing.

“I think Mikel Arteta will have come away from that game thinking, ‘it’s me or them’.

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“Either they decide to start playing for him or he gets rid of them. I doubt the first one, something didn’t feel right.”

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