Gary Neville has urged Mikel Arteta to sign ‘ice cold’ defenders in the transfer window if he wants Arsenal to kick on.
The Gunners suffered back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Brighton in a disastrous return to Premier League action, with their defenders making a string of individual errors.
David Luiz was mainly culpable during the 3-0 thumping at the hands of defending champions City, while Neal Maupay’s stoppage time winner in a 2-1 win for Brighton was another sign of Arsenal’s soft underbelly.
Neville, the former Manchester United defender, insists that Arteta can’t ‘trust’ his current crop of defenders no matter how well he coaches their defensive shape.
And he has advised him to overhaul the defence, to get rid of the ’emotional’ defenders at the club and instead sign ‘ice cold’ operators.
‘You just can’t trust Arsenal, you haven’t been able to for years,’ he told the Gary Neville Podcast. ‘We’ve all said it.
‘Mikel Arteta – we should still say that the shape Arsenal are playing, the shape they have defensively I think is better than it was previously but the individuals within that will let you down.
‘It doesn’t matter how well you coach the shape, if you get exposed one on one or defenders make mistakes – as we saw in that game against Manchester City and against Brighton – then you’re just going to get punished.
‘They just need defenders with better concentration. Jamie [Carragher] mentioned about Dejan Lovren being emotional.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson – there were elements of me that were emotional sometimes as a player and he would knock it right out of me. He said I hate emotional defenders. He wants his defenders to be ice cold.
‘You are going to make mistakes as a goalkeeper and a defender but it’s then that second mistake. That one where you try to win it back and you give that penalty away. It’s where you try to win it and you can’t win it.
‘It’s just dropping your ego really sometimes as a defender. Delaying helps because your team-mates sometimes get back.
‘You get too many defenders who try to win the first ball, who try and dive in and we’ve seen that with Arsenal’s defenders over the years – with David Luiz and Mustafi, Sokratis when he plays.
‘They dive in, they like to challenge where it’s not there to challenge, they feel they have to win the ball and sometimes it’s not there to win.’
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