Gary Neville blasts Mikel Arteta’s ‘strange’ decision that cost Arsenal against Man Utd

    Mikel Arteta made a treble change in the second half that hampered Arsenal
    Mikel Arteta made a treble change in the second half that hampered Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

    Gary Neville blamed Arsenal’s defeat against Manchester United on Mikel Arteta’s ‘strange’ second half treble substitution.

    The Premier League leaders trailed at the break thanks to Antony’s debut goal, but wrestled their way back into the contest through Bukayo Saka’s deserved equaliser.

    The Gunners went for the jugular at the point but were punished for their overexuberance when Marcus Rashford capitalised on a high defensive line and restored United’s lead with 24 minutes remaining.

    At that point Arteta opted to roll the dice, introducing Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and summer signing Fabio Vieira, with Martin Odegaard, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Sambi Lokonga withdrawn from the action.

    The decision backfired within two minutes as Rashford added his second following another swift breakaway after which Arsenal lacked the cohesion and composure that had been hallmarks of their display up to that point.

    Neville had been impressed with Arsenal’s display, one which confirmed their status as challengers for a top four place but felt Arteta’s premature changes proved decisive against United.

    He said: ‘They’ve been fantastic for 70 minutes but a bit of immaturity in the last 20 minutes.

    Marcus Rashford scored twice in Manchester United's 3-1 win over Arsenal
    Marcus Rashford scored twice in Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

    ‘I think the substitutions, the three changes, I thought was strange because I thought it’s a bit of a kitchen sink job whereby you could go and get done on the counter-attack which they did.

    ‘I don’t think they needed to do that at that point in the game there was still 20 minutes to go, they were playing really well.

    ‘They were creating chances and Manchester United’s goal on the counter was against the run of play.

    ‘All of a sudden it was a game that was made easier for Manchester United than Arsenal with those subs.

    ‘It might be a strange thing to say when they’re on the back of a 3-1 beating but I feel more confident in Arsenal’s top four chances after today than I do in the four or five games before.

    ‘They’ve been really good and they’ll get the other part of their game right more often than not.’

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