Gary Neville on Premier League top-four race: Can Arsenal recover? It’s Tottenham’s for the taking | Football News

Gary Neville has given his verdict on the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four, saying a fourth-placed finish is Tottenham’s for taking after the recent struggles of Arsenal and Manchester United.

Tottenham took full advantage of defeats for Arsenal and Manchester United at the weekend with a thumping 4-0 victory at Aston Villa. The results cemented Spurs’ position in fourth, taking them three points clear of Arsenal, who do still have a game in hand on their north London rivals.

However, Arsenal have suffered back a dip in form since the international break with back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Brighton, and Neville, speaking on The Gary Neville Podcastexpressed doubts about the Gunners’ ability to recover.

And with Manchester United and West Ham also faltering against Everton and Brentford respectively last weekend, it leaves Spurs firmly in the driving seat.

“I never really trusted Arsenal and I did fear for them,” Neville said.

“It’s three defeats in four now for Arsenal and I said a few weeks ago I did not trust them fully. The reason behind that was because they needed to prove they could go through a run-in where they were favorites for top four.

“Those doubts are starting to come to the fore.”

When you start to play well and the other teams start to drop points, you grow even more. I think that’s what happened with Tottenham as I do not think anything spectacular is happening there.

Gary Neville on Spurs’ resurgence

He added: “I have to say, Tottenham are getting there through the fact they’ve had a bit of experience in four to five years of getting to the Champions League and basically through the woes of Arsenal and United.

“West Ham have lost this weekend as well [at Brentford] so in some ways it’s over to you, Tottenham. They might as well take the Champions League place. Why not? We know they’ve got an exceptional front two which is now a front three with Kulusevski.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win against Arsenal in the Premier League.

“We know that, but there’s still a lot to play for. I think United are done. If I thought the players had anything at all, they could still have a go as they’ve still got to play Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool but I think they’re done. I thought they might have done it a few weeks ago.

“I never considered coming out of the international break they would be in as bad a place as they are so it’s now about whether Arsenal can recover but I’m just not sure. I feel it’s now Tottenham’s for the taking.”

Conte ‘feels blood’ or top-four rivals

Spurs head coach Antonio Conte speaking after his side’s win at Aston Villa last weekend:

“It was a great win for us. Especially when you play a game after your rivals for a place in the Champions League – Wolverhampton, Manchester United and Arsenal – have lost.

“In this moment you start to feel the blood. It is important in this moment not to fail. We are working a lot on the mentality and the players are giving me satisfaction.

“For sure, to see this improvement makes me proud. It gives me great satisfaction. At the same time, I know we have to work on this improvement.

“Because there is not only the tactical, technical and physical aspects but there is the mentality. There is a lot of space for improvement. But today they showed me they have improved this aspect.”

While their rivals have faltered, Spurs have hit form at just the right time with four straight wins in the Premier League.

Antonio Conte’s side have managed six wins in their last seven games, scoring 25 goals in the process to build up a three-point cushion over Arsenal.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s win against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

But despite the numbers and their league position, Neville said Tottenham’s resurgence is as much down to the failures of their rivals as their own form.

“I do not think they’ve been spectacular in the last couple of months, but they’re almost growing out of the very recent run of Arsenal and what Manchester United are doing,” he said.

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Gary Neville is concerned that Erik Ten Hag might not want the Manchester United job due to the difficulties inside the club as well as their current run of poor form.

“When you start to play well and the other teams start to drop points, you grow even more. I think that’s what happened with Tottenham as I do not think anything spectacular is happening there. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that Antonio Conte was saying he needed backing in the summer in order to stay.

“The two players signed in January [Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski] have had a big impact but even after that, there was a point whereby Conte was saying, ‘Arsenal will finish in the top four or United will’. According to reports, he needed £ 150m in the summer and needed backing to stay, but all of a sudden the picture has changed. “

Merson Says: There’s still something Spursy about Tottenham

Ben Davies, right, Emerson Royal, left, and Heung-Min Son celebrate after Spurs beat Newcastle
Image:
Ben Davies, right, Emerson Royal, left, and Heung-Min Son celebrate after Spurs beat Newcastle

In his latest column, Paul Merson reflects on why Arsenal could still pip Tottenham to fourth spot, the problems at Manchester United and gives his verdict on the Premier League title race …

“I still feel Arsenal have got a chance. Arsenal have got to go to Chelsea and Tottenham have still got to face Liverpool, which will be a different game. With Chelsea beating Southampton last weekend, that’s sort of cemented their top-four place.

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Mikel Arteta was disappointed with Arsenal’s performance in their 2-1 defeat to Brighton at the Emirates and said he expected a better reaction from his players after their previous defeat to Crystal Palace.

“What I would say is that the Arsenal players are at their ceiling. They’re playing as well as they can and there isn’t too much more in the locker. They had a day against Brighton where they dropped off that level and they got beaten.

“If you take a couple of players out who are very influential in that team and things aren’t great. The squad’s not big and Mikel Arteta virtually picks the same players all the time and against Brighton, they bumped into a team who had nothing to play for and who had a free swing.

“I felt it would be a dodgy game. Brighton hadn’t been playing well but you sensed it would be a nice football match. Arsenal could not get their full team out and it became a bit of a struggle. Kieran Tierney is a massive player and Thomas Partey has become increasingly influential.

“I still feel Arsenal are in it because Tottenham have still got a Tottenham in them. I do not mean that in a horrible way, but they still have got a Tottenham in them. Everyone was going mad about them but they could’ve been blown away in the first half against Aston Villa.

“Villa should’ve been out of sight and they only have to have one of those days in the next seven weeks. The 4-0 win over Villa covered over the cracks. They did some great stuff, don’t get me wrong, but in the first half Hugo Lloris had to make save after save. So I’m still not convinced by Tottenham.

“The top four is still very much on for Arsenal.”

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