Gary Neville was generally disliked as a player, but has become exceedingly popular since making the switch to punditry. He was sceptical about our chances before the game at the Etihad on Sunday, but was full of praise following our fantastic 2-0 win, as reported by Sky Sports.
Many fans put a lot of stock in his opinion, but the former Manchester United star is happy to admit when he is wrong.
“I was wrong and I’m happy to be wrong,” he said.
“Today, the defenders were never exposed; it was one of the best back-four performances I’ve seen. [Laurent] Koscielny and [Per] Mertesacker probably aren’t as tired as they’ve ever been. They were calm, relaxed, composed and didn’t look in any trouble towards the end of the game.
“It was a really good performance and I’m happy to say that I was completely wrong last week when I tried to pre-empt a defeat for Arsenal.”
The skepticism ahead of the game was understandable, as our record against the big teams away from home has been appalling in recent years, and Neville insisted that we had to kick on from this victory and to ensure it wasn’t a one off.
“I have to say the most important thing now is that they move forward and build on that, and don’t go back to how they were in previous games when they came away from home,” he continued.
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“Not many teams come here and win so it’s a big feat today what they’ve done.
“Everything we’ve said Arsenal have lacked in the last four or five years, they showed today – and that’s something they should be proud of.”
It was a fantastic defensive performance, but the most pleasing factor was the overall team display. Every last man worked hard for the team, and no player was left looking vulnerable.
In the past we have seen gaps appear, and our opposition have been given the space and freedom to play. When a player like Mertesacker is left exposed, his lack of pace becomes evident; this was not the case yesterday.
We were quick to close the ball down, and regularly doubled up on players to prevent one-on-one situations.
We can’t get carried away with ourselves, but this was a superb performance and a superb result.
Let’s hope this is the start of a new look and more tactically astute Arsenal.