Arsenal beat Man City 1-0 on Sunday thanks to a late deflected Gabriel Martinelli strike; it was the first time Gunners had beaten City in the Premier League since 2015 and moves them joint-top of the table with Tottenham
Sunday 8 October 2023 20:35, UK
Gary Neville says Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Manchester City proves they have a “big chance” to capitalise on the defending champions’ treble hangover and win the Premier League.
Gabriel Martinelli's deflected late strike secured a first win for Arsenal over City in the Premier League since 2015 - and with it hope that they can come out on top of another title tussle with Pep Guardiola's side.
Arsenal go into the international break level on points with neighbours Tottenham at the top of the table, with City two points back in third.
Neville believes an improved Arsenal can go one better after finishing runners-up to City last season.
"I think they've got a big chance, Arsenal," he told Sky Sports.
"They've got to keep their players fit. They're 100-per-cent better with Declan Rice in the middle of the pitch, without a shadow of a doubt.
"You want more from your centre-forwards, and it was hard for both of them [against City], but there's a question mark over whether that'll cause them problems in the end.
"They have to keep Rice fit, the idea of not playing Gabriel Magalhaes at the start of the season was an experiment that won't happen again. Those two centre-halves - Gabriel and William Saliba - were pivotal against City, they were outstanding playing against the best player in the world in that position [Erling Haaland].
"To beat City, and give [injured] Bukayo Saka a three-week rest, that could be a really good thing.
"The two centre-backs and Rice are the most important players to keep fit. They won't win the league without them.
"I was worried about the goalkeeper David Raya in the first half. He's averted a bit of a crisis there. If he conceded a goal from one of those moments, honestly you've seen it go badly. Hopefully he's gone home and reflected, he came out a lot better for the second half - but whatever Arteta said to them at half-time, they all came out better."
While City certainly aren't anywhere near a crisis point, they have now suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time in five years and appear more vulnerable than in recent seasons.
Neville puts that down to the after-effects of winning the Premier League, FA Cup and a long-awaited Champions League last season.
"The reason I predicted Arsenal to win the title is because I felt they got close last year, I thought they'd be close again and I thought there'd be a slight treble hangover for City," said Neville.
"What's City's cause this year? They've achieved utopia, they can't do any more. When you've fought so long and hard to win a Champions League like they have and won the treble and repeated what Man Utd have done, there's got to be that little bit of a sigh of relief.
"I remember my most difficult season for United was the season after the treble. We did win the league but the other teams weren't very good that season. I had a nightmare, it took so much out of me the previous season.
"I think there'll be an element of these City players just having a bit taken out of them.
"They've taken a couple of punches on the chin in the last couple of weeks, so they might have been woken up early enough and don't write them off - absolutely not. But something's happening, Wolves, Newcastle, now losing a game like this. Things that haven't happened too many times in the past are starting to happen in front of their eyes."