Gary Neville felt Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla were “overrun and lacking in power” during Arsenal’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Sunday.
Neville has said previously that Arsenal cannot win the Premier League with Cazorla playing in central midfield, and the Spaniard was taken off at half-time in the north London derby, with Arsene Wenger revealing he was “dizzy”.
Kieran Gibbs bundled in 13 minutes from time to earn Arsenal a point following Harry Kane’s first-half opener, but Neville felt their midfield struggled to cope with Tottenham’s trio of Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele.
“From Arsenal’s point of view, it’s as bad as I’ve seen them, in terms of being disjointed, in such a big game,” Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast.
“They finished really strongly, but the first half was the first time I’ve seen the midfield two look like I thought they might be in the Premier League, which is overrun and lacking in power.
“It was so difficult for Cazorla in particular, who was hauled off at half-time, they say he was feeling unwell. Well, I have a feeling there was case for taking him off even if he wasn’t unwell, because Tottenham were brilliant.
“They got back into the game, though, and I think both managers can be happy for different reasons.”
Mauricio Pochettino said after the game that he would not put a limit on his ambitions for the season, and Neville believes the Argentine is right to feel encouraged by their latest performance.
“Tottenham were fantastic,” Neville said. “Pochettino has really had to take the house down brick by brick and re-build it in the last 18 months.
“It’s not easy to move some players on – with the wages they are on, they want to hang around – and he’s done that. He’s now got a team out on the pitch that’s reflective of him. If I was a Spurs fan, I would gain great encouragement.
“There’s a team out there now that isn’t as flaky as it used to be, that runs like crazy, that absolutely ran all over Arsenal for 75 minutes during that game. If there was one part of the match that they failed in, it was heading the ball – they couldn’t clear their box.
“But it was a fantastic performance from a young team. From Pochettino’s point of view, he will have a bit of a tingle because he can feel where he’s taking this team. You can see the work that’s going in on the training ground.”
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