Gary Neville has been hugely critical of our midfield duo Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin in the past, suggesting that it would be impossible for Arsenal to win the Premier League while relying on the “these types of players”.
Recent figures from CIES Football Observatory (among others) however, have shown that Cazorla and Coquelin are not only among the best midfielders in the Premier League, but are actually up there with the best in Europe.
Neville blasted Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, and the midfield duo in a rant about our inability to challenge for the title earlier this season.
“It is the one big, if you like black mark, against Arsene Wenger in these last 10 years in terms of why he hasn’t identified an issue with these types of players [points to Coquelin and Cazorla] – because they cannot win the league with them. It can’t happen,” Neville is quoted as saying (via the Mirror)
“I can’t think of a word to describe that bunch. I could but it wouldn’t be usable on television.
“They are certainly not what you want to win you a league, the powerful characters, the strength you need running through your team whether it’s a Blackburn team or a Manchester City team with Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany.”
The stats show just how much quality the pair possess though, and prove that they’ve been among the best in Europe this season.
While we haven’t definitively proved Neville wrong just yet – as we obviously haven’t won the league just yet – it’s hard to see how he can stand by his comments.
We have the joint best defensive record in the league, with both Manchester United and ourselves conceding just eight goals this season. We also have that balanced well with our attacking threat, having scored just five goals fewer than current league leaders Manchester City.
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We’ll just have to wait and see whether we’re able to push on and win the league this year, and with our lack of depth in certain areas there are some definite weaknesses. We’ve looked more than capable of going all the way though, and Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla have been a massive part of that.