‘It’s not good enough’ – Neville slams two Liverpool players in Arsenal defeat

Joe Williams
Gary Neville speaks about Liverpool

Gary Neville has criticised Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago Alcantara for their roles in Arsenal’s second goal on Sunday.

The Reds lost 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium despite goals from Darwin Nunez and Roberto Firmino twice pegging the Gunners back.

Defeat to Mikel Arteta’s men leaves Liverpool in tenth position in the Premier League with defending champions Manchester City their next opponents in the Premier League.

Liverpool now face a challenge to qualify for the Champions League after Jurgen Klopp ruled them out of the title race.

Some of their players, who were extremely reliable last season, have become error prone this term with Neville picking out Alexander-Arnold and Thiago for criticism against Arsenal.

For Arsenal’s second goal, Kostas Tsimikas was left outnumbered with Alexander-Arnold moving across as Gabriel Martinelli broke into the box, leaving Bukayo Saka free at the back post.

And Neville was critical of Alexander-Arnold and Liverpool team-mate Thiago for their role in Arsenal taking a 2-1 lead.

“They get a counter attack. It’s not good enough from Thiago. I praised him all the way through the first-half. I have no idea what Trent Alexander-Arnold’s doing here, I have to say,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“Once he goes across there and just does that, he leaves Tsimikas in the middle isolated on his own. Liverpool’s right-back goes across and that is just not good enough.”

Neville has faith that Alexander-Arnold can become one of England’s greatest ever full-backs but he insists there are a number of things the Liverpool defender must learn.

Neville told Sky Sports last week: “I watched the goals against Brighton and there was a big conversation in Jurgen Klopp’s press conference about Trent Alexander-Arnold. Klopp defended him but I feel he was involved in all three Brighton goals on Saturday.

“I’ve wanted to do a piece on Alexander-Arnold on Monday Night Football for a long time. Trent isn’t a young player any more. He’s young in his age but he’s actually got 250 matches for Liverpool and England. That’s a mountain of games to have.

“What does surprise me still when I watch him is three or four of the very basic things in full-back play…

“These things can be taught in training and be coached every day because I was a poor full-back at the age of 20.

“What we know now is that you cannot be a full-back in the modern game without having the ability to go forward.

“It’s near-on impossible. There’s an expectation now that you are good on the ball going forward. That’s why we don’t see Aaron Wan-Bissaka playing under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United.

“He’s not deemed as capable enough in setting up play and taking the ball into the final third. You can no longer sit here and say, ‘defending is his priority, defending is his first job’.

“But the balance between being a good defender and a good attacker is imperative. You can’t be 70-80 per cent attacker and only 10-20 per cent defender when you are a full-back. What Trent has at the moment is an imbalance in his game.

“You can have a brilliant attacking part of his game like he has, and a less competent defensive part but it needs to be one that gets you through moments in games and you have to be capable of dealing with things.

READ MORE: ‘Lads, it’s Liverpool’, Trent as Charlie Adam and Arsenal fans distance themselves from title race

“I think Trent has to work on his defending. I said it a few years ago that there was a lack of seriousness in his defending and there was a lack of alertness. At some point in his career, it will hold him back.

“If Liverpool aren’t in as good a period as they have been for four or five years – which is what they are at the moment – or he plays for a less superior team in possession like England, then there’s going to be a greater expectation that he is going to be in a defensive position for more of the game. That’s what we are seeing at the moment.

“It’s causing him some pain and he’s only young. But it’s an important juncture in his career where it’s not a time to wade into him, it’s not a time to give up on him.

“It’s a time to get right behind him as he’s one of the most exceptional talents that you will ever see as a full-back on the ball.

“During my Premier League career at United, I played 400 games and had 35 assists. He’s had 44 assists in his last four seasons at the age of 23. It’s absolutely ridiculous. What we have got here is one of the great talents this country has produced in this position.

“But, I think there’s an example in his own team where the balance is right in Andrew Robertson.

“He goes forward, gets plenty of assists, lots of passes into his strikers and lots of good play into midfield but also he’s competitive and he’s good down that side in terms of his defending.”