Gary Neville explains how Arsenal ‘threw away the title’ with early celebrations
Gary Neville has explained how Arsenal have "thrown the title away", pointing to "over-celebrations" earlier in the season and a lack of composure in the dressing room.
The Gunners have led the Premier League for more than 200 days - longer than any other team in a single season without winning the title - but saw their dreams finally dashed on Sunday as Brighton ran out 3-0 winners.
Manchester City could now win a fifth league crown in six seasons before next kicking a ball if Arsenal drop more points against Nottingham Forest.
Neville believes the league was lost long before Sunday's defeat, pointing to a number of leads lost - against Liverpool and West Ham - and dropped points - against Southampton and City - in a hugely damaging April run, and questioned the behaviour of some of the players when the Gunners were clear favourites of the title.
“I think there is an element of throwing the title away because of the nature of the defeats they have had, being up in games, being 2-0 up in two games, losing 3-1 against the bottom of the league [before a late comeback to draw], yesterday what happened [against Brighton],” Neville said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
“In 2023 we don’t use the same emotive language as we have done in previous years.
“There is no doubt if this was going back to the Kevin Keegan era, this would be described very harshly; this Arsenal team would be being attacked now for what has happened in the last few weeks, but we are a lot more conscious and a lot more aware about the language we use around it.
“However, at elite level you have to make sure you perform, the biggest moments in the most high-pressure environment, you have got to deliver in those moments.
“I always doubted whether this Arsenal team, looking at some of the things that were happening... the over-celebrations against Aston Villa.
“I look at little things that might be a little bit harsh. [Oleksandr] Zinchenko after the game against Bournemouth celebrating an hour after the game with the fans and screaming. You want your leaders in the team who have been there before to spread composure around the dressing room and to calm everybody down, you don’t want them to lift the anxiety and lift the emotion.
“There is an element of emotion; [Granit] Xhaka at Anfield, [Thomas] Partey losing his form in games and getting caught on the ball in difficult moments.
“It has become very tough on them mentally. I think mentally it has caused them a big issue in the last few weeks.”