Arsenal need to stop trying to be innovative with their tactics and get back to basics ahead of their clash with Manchester United, says Gary Neville.
Joao Palhinha stunned the Gunners with a late equaliser on Saturday as 10-player Fulham came back to claim a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Emirates and end their hosts’ perfect start to the Premier League season.
Mikel Arteta decided to employ Thomas Partey in a hybrid full-back role for the third game running as he looks for the right balance to help accommodate new signings Declan Rice and Kai Havertz.
Neville said on the Gary Neville Podcast that he wants to see Arteta go back to a system that suited Arsenal so well last season when they face Manchester United on Super Sunday.
He said: “Looking at Arsenal, there’s an element of experimentation for Thomas Partey playing as a full-back and a midfielder. Sometimes there’s an element of going back to basics.
“I think Mikel Arteta will end that experiment against Manchester United. Get back to something that resembles what a team looks like. Innovation is fantastic but the balance of a team is so important. I love seeing new things but sometimes an idea can evolve into something that doesn’t work.
“There’s a little bit of that with Arsenal. They need to get back to being a 4-3-3 team. It’s a big test for United as all three of their performances have been below par and if you are below par at the Emirates, you will get beaten. But Arsenal need to sort themselves out and get back into a shape that suits them and they are more familiar with.”
Nev: I’d rather play against Gakpo or Jota; Nunez frightens me
Darwin Nunez’s late double completed a stunning comeback as Liverpool overcame Virgil van Dijk’s red card to beat Newcastle 2-1 in a chaotic and controversial encounter.
Neville, who was co-commentating on the game, said: “If ever a player needed that, it was Darwin Nunez. He has been signed for huge money.
“Me and Jamie Carragher had a conversation about him last season and we both said he’ll come good. He can be a bit scratchy and snatchy at chances – it doesn’t look like he composes himself. Top strikers usually have ice in their veins, to make the game look really slow. He doesn’t have that. He’s frantic. His mind is really quick and that usually isn’t good for a striker.
“But when he got the two chances at Newcastle, he took them and that’s what you need to do to be a top striker. That’s what you need to do when you cost £80-90m is that you need to score big goals in big moments for your team. That was a huge moment for Liverpool and Nunez.
“I’d rather play against Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota than Nunez – he’d frighten me to death, the speed of him. But if he can’t finish then he doesn’t have the punch to knock your opponents out. If adds that punch, then he becomes a really interesting player.”
Nev: Howe may need to sign a devastating finisher
For Newcastle, they have not beaten Liverpool in the Premier League in nearly eight years and they will surely see this as a wasted opportunity to end that barren run.
Neville said: “I think Newcastle are on a good trajectory under Eddie Howe – the way the new owners have managed it has been perfect. They’ve built a strong foundation. But at some point they will have to add the quality of player in the front part of the pitch.
“It may make Howe’s stomach churn a little as that kind of player won’t do the transition work out of possession that he’ll want. Newcastle are the best team out of possession in the Premier League. They all fight for one another. But when you bring in a talented player sometimes they believe they don’t need to work the hard yards back. But what you get back in return is really high quality and clinical finishing. Newcastle’s front players lacked that ability to kill the game off vs Liverpool – that’s the question that will come for Howe at some point.
“I do love watching them play so there’s no suggestion this is the end of Newcastle – I think they’ll have a great season. But there might come a time when they have to break down teams that need something special. That subtlety and devastation in the final third – like Liverpool have.”