Saturday, June 25, 2022

Neville blames the canceled derby for Arsenal’s troubles in the UCL race

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Gary Neville has said the postponed North London derby is responsible for Arsenal being fifth in the Premier League.

The rearranged game was played last Thursday as Spurs beat the Gunners 3-0. It was initially slated to continue in January but Arsenal requested a reshuffle due to Covid cases in their squad.

After last week’s result and Arsenal’s subsequent defeat by Newcastle, Spurs go into the final round of the season in fourth place, two points clear of their rivals. Neville has now said Mikel Arteta’s side would not be in this position had the derby not been postponed.

“The cancellation of this NLD game has cost Arsenal,” Neville tweeted. “They hadn’t recovered at all from Thursday and if that loss had happened earlier in the season they would have been clear about it.”

If Arsenal had beaten Spurs, Arteta’s men would have been close to securing fourth place. They missed that opportunity and another against Newcastle and Arteta said the club are not ready for Champions League football if they continue to play like they did on Monday.

“The performance was far from the level we need if we want to play in the Champions League,” said the Spaniard. “Normally I will always defend my players. Not tonight, it’s too difficult. Newcastle were 100 times better than us in every department from start to finish. It’s hard to accept, but that’s the reality.

“We didn’t show up. We never got into the game. We lost every duel. Newcastle deservedly won the game, probably by a bigger margin. I’m incredibly disappointed. It’s very painful. It was in our hands, it is not in our hands now.”

Arsenal need to beat Everton on Sunday and Norwich need to beat Tottenham for the Gunners to bag Champions League football.

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