Gary Neville has questioned the leadership of Martin Odegaard and three of his senior Arsenal teammates after they failed to provide “guidance” for younger stars “in the crux of the season”.
The Gunners have dropped nine points in their last four games and are now just two points above Manchester City, who have two games in hand and are now odds on to win the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta’s side were torn apart by their title rivals at the Etihad on Wednesday, with Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland running riot in the 4-1 win.
And Neville reckons Odegaard, along with Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka have let their teammates down in recent weeks.
Speaking on The Overlap, Neville said: “I look at Martin Odegaard, fantastic professional. Oleksandr Zinchenko, great professional. But when you actually get to the highest pressurised moments in the biggest matches in the crux of the season, are they leaders then?
“Arsenal’s senior players, Partey, Zinchenko, Odegaard, in the most difficult period – when those younger players like Saka and Martinelli needed that guidance, Jesus needed telling to stop running around and just stand up front and be really disciplined in how you play – they didn’t impact the rest of their teammates on the pitch, I don’t believe. In fact, they contributed to the difficulties they were having in the matches.
“Xhaka at Anfield [referring to the incident with Trent Alexander-Arnold ], Partey’s performances in the last few games, I think Zinchenko gave a goal away in one game as well – the Liverpool game and maybe West Ham as well – and Odegaard had probably his most difficult game as well against Manchester City.
“And then if you think of the huddle that Zinchenko did [against Southampton ] and then Odegaard came over and said, ‘Break up’. So those four players that are the leaders in that team have not been able – at the moment those younger players needed it – to really pull them together and keep them calm and composed. That to me has been apparent these last few weeks.”