Neville and Carragher name two Arsenal stars who’ve taken them to another level, but clash on Tottenham, Conte debate

Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, Premier League pundits

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have both been wowed by two Arsenal stars, though the pundits disagreed on an Antonio Conte debate arising from Tottenham’s derby defeat.

The season’s first north London derby did not disappoint. Four goals were plundered and the occasion’s customary red card was shown. Emerson Royal was the player to receive his marching orders and his dismissal stopped any hopes of a Tottenham fightback in its tracks.

Arsenal emerged victorious via a 3-1 scoreline to take their points tally to 21 from a possible 24.

With the likes of Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea all struggling, the Gunners already look well placed for a top four finish.

However, given the magnitude of their start, Mikel Arteta and his staff will be aiming far higher than just fourth spot.

Sky’s Monday Night Football presented Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher with a chance to run the rule over the derby.

The pair waxed lyrical about Arsenal’s start to the season and both pundits agreed on two players in particular who’ve raised the bar.

Gabriel Jesus, William Saliba take the plaudits

“I believe they’re a lot better than last season and you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Mikel Arteta,” said Neville.

“I thought they were the better team. They were more proactive and on the front foot.

“We know how Tottenham play… they did get back into it, but I think overall, if you’re a football purist now you’re seeing a lot more of the pragmatic teams losing the big games.

“The dominant team, the one who wants to go forward [are winning].”

When asked by presenter Dave Jones if their transfer dealings have made the difference, Neville added: “I think Jesus and Saliba have been huge introductions.

“They’re in a really good moment. Look, there’s a long way to go, they’ve still got to get to that point in the season where it’ll become difficult for them.

“It won’t always be rosy and that trust we’ve always said we need to see evidence of… those moments are still yet to come.

“But they’ve had a brilliant start and I’m not sure I expected that at the end of last season.”

Carragher rails against Neville claims the stats don’t support

Neville suggested those deploying a more pragmatic approach – such as Conte and Tottenham – are often coming off second best in the big games.

That is a viewpoint that doesn’t stand up if Spurs’ results against the big boys last season are included.

Indeed, Tottenham went unbeaten in their four league clashes with Man City and Liverpool last year.

Conte was in charge for three of them, securing two draws against the Reds and defeating Man City 3-2 at the Etihad.

Conte also led Tottenham to the crushing 3-0 victory over Arsenal in the penultimate match of the season that tipped the balance in the top four race.

Carragher pushed back on Neville’s claim about Conte and a more pragmatic approach, pointing to the series of chances Tottenham spurned in the first half when their final pass went slightly astray.

When asked if the team in north London with the most questions to answer is back to being Spurs, Carragher said: “Yes, I suppose so because a lot of people this season felt it would be Spurs in the position Arsenal are right now.

“But I’ve seen Spurs have got a bit of criticism and I hear what Gary’s saying, but in terms of how Conte plays, they played how a Conte team wants to play.

“If they’d have got the final pass right on three or four occasions they should’ve got in at half time in front.

“But I take nothing away from Arsenal. I’ve been so impressed with them, the pace they play at, the football they play.

“The two signings, Saliba and Jesus, have taken this team to a complete other level.”