On the latest Gary Neville Podcast, the Sky Sportspundit discusses an “intriguing” Premier League title race, Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, Leeds’ drawn-out search for a new head coach and Graham Potter’s precarious situation at Chelsea…
‘Sloppy Man City still giving Arsenal a chance’
The Premier League title race was still in Arsenal’s favour but after losing to Man City in midweek it was critical they won at Aston Villa on Saturday and for so long it looked like it was in doubt. Villa put up a good showing but it was a really good victory for Arsenal, important.
There is such a long way to go and it will twist back and forward. I watched the highlights of the City game against Nottingham Forest and they missed chance after chance and were sloppy in front of goal.
I still can’t get my head around Bernardo Silva in a left-back position. I think you’ll concede goals there potentially if that continues to happen and Pep Guardiola is taking a risk if he has him there. When they went ahead against Arsenal and started to look comfortable was when they went to a proper back four and Manuel Akanji was there with Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker.
We’ve got an intriguing title race. Arsenal needed a good weekend. They’ve conceded 10 goals in the last six games. They need to stop conceding goals. One of the traits of a run-in is that if you’re conceding goals and teams feel they have a chance, it’s very difficult to win a league. They just need to watch that.
It will give them confidence coming out of this weekend. They can go five points clear again if they win their game in hand. Thomas Partey not playing is a miss but they just need to think about getting back to clean sheets in this next period.
But for City, they’re still giving Arsenal a big chance because they’re not playing at their best, they’re sloppy in front of goal and they still look vulnerable themselves at the back.
‘Pope suspension gives Man Utd advantage’
I think the toughest position on a football pitch is a goalkeeper. As much as I’m quite critical of them at times, I respect that position enormously. It’s a tough position. The other is to play up front on your own.
Newcastle not having (Nick) Pope for the Carabao Cup final on Sunday is a blow to them. But it’s a cup final. Newcastle will be desperate to win, just as Man Utd will be. But it has to be an advantage to United for Newcastle to lose such an important player.
Man Utd play on Thursday night, though, against Barcelona in what is an important, monumental second leg after a brilliant game in the Nou Camp, so that might equalise it a little bit as well, that Man Utd have other thoughts this week.
But it’s going to be a really interesting game. I’m going to be there and I can’t wait for it because it’s a really intriguing story that both these clubs are desperate for a trophy.
Nev: Leeds manager search worrying
It would be a worry for Leeds. Saturday was such a big game for them. It was for Everton and Sean Dyche too and they did well to get the victory. But from Leeds’ point of view, you have to look above the players and the interim manager and say it isn’t looking particularly great. When you’re sacking a manager you need a seamless transition to settle the changing room down and the fanbase down and keep us off your back in thinking you don’t know what you’re doing.
Sometimes it can be poor planning, sometimes arrogance, or both, that you can sack your manager and think ‘don’t worry we’ll get one of the ones we want’. Then all of a sudden they all turn you down or aren’t available. That can happen. That’s usually naivety that causes that, where you get above your station and think you can bring in anyone you want.
‘Chelsea owners must hold their nerve’
Graham Potter is under massive pressure. You can see it on his face. The chances they missed in the second half against Southampton at the weekend and the boos at the end of the game felt a little ominous.
I think they’ll want to do the right thing, the Chelsea owners. They’ve sacked a manager very early in the season in Thomas Tuchel, they’ve owned their new manager, they’ve brought recruitment assistants in alongside him, so they’ve invested heavily in Graham and his team.
They have to hold their nerve if they want to see it through, but I suspect that nerve is being tested, as any owner’s nerve would be when you’ve spent that level of money and you’re losing games at home to the bottom of the league.
He’s a fantastic coach and you feel watching Potter he’s a measured man. You get the idea he’d like to build a pattern of play with a group of players on a consistent basis and he’s got 33 of them staring at him down the barrel saying ‘play me’.
These aren’t junior players, they’re senior internationals and I can’t imagine what it must be like to have 33 players. I was a manager for a very short period and we had a squad of 22, 23 at Valencia and you’re looking at 11, 12 players every week thinking ‘I’m not going to play you’. He’s got 22 players who are not going to play. If they’re all fit – how do you even get them all into a training session?
For a good training session you’d have 16-20 players. If you’ve got 22 players, five of them are training with the reserves or on their own. That isn’t right. They needed to unload players off Graham Potter to take the pressure of handling all those players who are expecting to play every single week.
I’ve used the word chaotic and I think it has been chaotic in the first six months of the Boehly ownership. I won’t change my mind on that. They’ve invested heavily, they’re putting their money where their mouth is and are saying all the right things, but at this moment in time it won’t be a successful project when you have 33 players all looking at the manager and a manager who wants to build a measured project.
It feels a little bit conflicted with what Potter would ordinarily be really strong at and what the ownership seems to want in respect of filling a squad and accumulating players of that sort of volume.
Neville: Rashford in sensational form | Man Utd fans keen on takeover | Long way to go in PL title race
Gary Neville talks to Sky Sports commentator Rob Hawthorne after Manchester United’s 3-0 win against Leicester in the Premier League and talks about the form of Marcus Rashford, what may happen next regarding the takeover of the club and also takes a look at the Carabao Cup Final and the Premier League title race….