Former Premier League winner Gary Neville has sent a message to senior Arsenal players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette.
The Gunners’ transfer strategy this summer was very clear. We only wanted to sign young players and each one of our six incomings were under the age of 24. That makes our squad an extremely young one.
That’s not ideal at all in the Premier League where experience matters so much. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve struggled, and Neville has urged our senior players to stand up and take more responsibility on and off the pitch at Arsenal.
Gary Neville: Auba, Laca and Xhaka have to step up for Arsenal
The former Manchester United star told Sky Sports: “There are ways to lose matches and Arsenal have done it in the worst possible way, where it looks like they’ve been rolled over. They have to get back after internationals to building some momentum.
“There are no signings I look at and think, ‘they excite me’, but they do have a group that need to come together quickly and form a team. Sometimes it’s not the signings they bring in at Arsenal, it’s the senior players you look at and think, ‘what are they getting from them?’
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka… they’ve got to get themselves right to create an atmosphere in that dressing room where they’re all together and aligned behind the manager. They have to start working for each other on the pitch and be difficult to beat before they worry about winning loads of matches. They’ve been very easy to beat so far this season, which is not a good trait.”
The Insider’s View:
Neville has a point. In Arsenal’s 26-man squad, only nine players are over the age of 26. That’s only about a third of our side, which just shows how difficult it is for Mikel Arteta to find the right balance.
Aubameyang, Lacazette and Granit Xhaka are the leaders in the squad and they have to stand up. We’re not saying they’re bad examples off the pitch, but the level of their performances in games have to go up to make the youngsters’ lives easier.
Arsenal take on Norwich when the Premier League returns and nothing but a win is acceptable. The older players have to step up and if they do, we should be able to pick up our first win of the season quite comfortably.