‘Arsenal have gone up in my estimations’: Neville says 31-year-old ‘played like Scholes’ vs Newcastle

Jason Soutar
Gary Neville before Soccer Aid

Gary Neville was very impressed by one Arsenal player in particular after their statement 2-0 win away to Newcastle United on Sunday.

The Gunners weathered an early storm at St James’ Park – perhaps riding their luck at times with Jacob Murphy striking the post in the opening minutes.

Their calm midfield saw them through a difficult period and captain Martin Odegaard opened the scoring with an excellent long-range strike.

Mikel Arteta’s side made sure of the points in the second half when Fabian Schar poked Gabriel Martinelli’s pass into his own net.

January signing Jorginho was arguably the best player on the park. The Italian added a superb amount of organisation, composure, and poise to the Arsenal midfield.

Neville waxed lyrical about the 31-year-old during commentary, and he was very complimentary afterward, likening his performance to that of Paul Scholes.

“The reason why Manchester United players and Pep Guardiola have said Paul Scholes is their favourite player was because in moments in the hardest atmosphere in a difficult away game those players are unique,” he said on The Gary Neville Podcast.

“They have the composure, the balance to get the team playing. That’s what Jorginho reminded me of – he was fantastic.

“Arsenal have gone up a lot in my estimation [on Sunday] as I didn’t expect that. I expected them to fall.

“Those Manchester City players will go to bed, not panicking, but it’s a little dig in the ribs. They will have wanted a cushion going into the Real Madrid game.”

READ MORE: Arsenal bottle up title ‘fears’ to prove to Manchester City – and Arteta – they will challenge again

Many expected Arsenal to struggle against Eddie Howe’s side, but they proved they were up to the task in what is a very difficult stadium to perform.

The win leaves the Gunners one point behind league leaders Manchester City – who have played a game less.

City will need to drop points in two different matches and Arsenal fans will be hoping their Champions League semi-final legs against European champions Real Madrid can hinder their title push.

Neville was very impressed by Arteta’s men in the 2-0 win at Newcastle, noting that it has made the title race “really compelling”.

“They’ve really gone up in my estimations, Arsenal, from where they were in the last few weeks because people have said they lost their form, they didn’t lose their form,” he added.

“They played brilliantly, the best I’ve seen a team play at Anfield in the first half-hour, at the London Stadium they were sensational for 35 minutes, they were really good against Chelsea. They’ve not lost their form, if you do that you go down suddenly. What they’ve done is lost their nerve in games where they’ve conceded a goal and not handled adversity well.

“They’ve looked a little bit panicky and tense, all those things you associate with pressure.

“It was so important that Arsenal had to keep Manchester City honest, and they’ve done that. It makes it really compelling.”

READ MORE: Four from Arsenal, no Man Utd in the ‘worst’ Big Six XI of the Premier League season…