Gary Neville believes Arsenal may be guilty of failing to focus properly ahead of important matches as Manchester United prepare to visit the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger’s men have not beaten United in the Premier League since May 2011, a run of eight games stretching back to the infamous 8-2 thrashing the Gunners suffered at Old Trafford in August that year.
A decorated United stalwart as a player, Neville knows exactly what it takes to get the better of fellow heavyweight teams, the right-back having ended his career with a haul of eight league titles, many of them won at the expense of Arsenal.
And he has doubts over Arsenal’s mental state as Wenger’s side seek to bounce back from a chastening 3-2 Champions League loss to Olympiacos.
“If I’m Per Mertesacker this weekend, on the Friday morning before a Sunday game of this magnitude I would be thinking, ‘I need to communicate to Hector Bellerin that Memphis Depay will always try to cut inside on to his right foot, and that I need to be there inside to help him, although I need Bellerin to show him the outside’,” Neville wrote in The Daily Telegraph.
“‘Is Bellerin thinking he has to stay tight to Memphis, and to pull Aaron Ramsey back towards him, so that I don’t get exposed by Anthony Martial in a channel one on one for pace?’
“I may be wrong, but I sense that Arsenal players go into training on Friday morning thinking about how they’ll pass the ball, score with a bicycle kick, how much fun they are going to have. On the Saturday morning they still might not be switched on. Sunday morning is too late. It’s fatal to think like that before a big game.”