EPL

Neville: Arsenal will finish below Manchester pair in third place

By Sports Desk January 16, 2023

Gary Neville has tipped Arsenal to finish below Manchester City and even Manchester United in third place, despite the Gunners' big lead at the Premier League summit.

Arsenal maintained their great form with a 2-0 win over north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday to move eight points clear of City, who lost 2-1 to United on Saturday.

That is Arsenal's biggest lead in the competition after the same number of games as the side below them since the final day of the 2003-04 season, when they last won the title.

Man United and Newcastle United are a point further back, meanwhile, with the latter having played a game more than the rest of the top four.

But while many are now backing Arsenal to end their long wait for top-flight glory, United legend Neville is expecting them to finish as low as third.

Asked if Arsenal will win the Premier League, Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast: "No. But I said Leicester City wouldn't win the league... 

"I don't think they will win the league. Manchester City will win the league, and I think Man Utd will finish second, and I know that will annoy Arsenal fans.

"I'd rather Arsenal win the league than Man City. I think it would be absolutely sensational for the Premier League.

"I think about watching the Premier League, we've seen City sweep up, apart from Liverpool, over the past five years. 

"To think Arsenal could come and win it, it adds to our league, it makes our league great. I'd love Man Utd to win it, but I don't think that's going to happen this season."

Arsenal's return of 47 points after 18 matches is the fourth most of any side at this stage of a Premier League season, having dropped just seven points all campaign.

However, Neville has backed City to string together a run of victories as they so often have – with Arsenal still to play home and away – and win a fifth title in six seasons.

"The reality of it is, I think at some point Man City will hit a run. Once they do, they've got to play Arsenal twice," Neville said. 

"At some point, there will be a very difficult period for Arsenal this season. Is it conceivable that Arsenal are going to continue as they are? I don't think it is. 

"Could they draw two and lose one in a three-game period, and if they did that, their lead is gone, and the pack is up with them? That's what I think is going to happen.

"We'll see a traditional Premier League season where a team goes out, the pacemaker, and then they'll get drawn back in a little bit. 

"But I still think that this season is going to be far better for Arsenal than I ever imagined it would be."

Arsenal are set to face United in their next league outing on Sunday, while City host Tottenham on Thursday and Wolves on Sunday.

Related items

  • Van Dijk understands Netherlands criticism at Euro 2024 Van Dijk understands Netherlands criticism at Euro 2024

    Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk understands the criticism of his side at Euro 2024, despite remaining unbeaten in the tournament following their goalless draw against France last time out. 

    The Dutch came from behind to win their opening Group D game against Poland, before holding out for a point against a wasteful showing from Les Bleus. 

    In a game dominated by Didier Deschamps' side, the Netherlands recorded their lowest possession figure in a Euros game on record (since 1980) with 37%. 

    Despite this, excluding shootouts, the Oranje have lost just one of their last 18 games at major international tournaments, coming at Euro 2020 against Czechia (W12 D5). 

    Van Dijk and his team-mates were criticised by pundits and newspaper columnists after the game against France, but the Liverpool captain was unmoved by the comments. 

    "Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, that's fine," he said. "It doesn't bother me, it's part of football. If it irritated me, I would have a very unpleasant life.

    "Expectations are high, also among ourselves. We have a good team; I sincerely think so. We want to show it in big matches. After the match against France, we as players clearly said to each other what needs to be improved.

    “We can and must do better than we did against France. We can still make progress in this European Championship."

    The Netherlands face Austria in Berlin on Tuesday to conclude their group campaign. 

    Ronald Koeman's side knows that should they equal or better France's result against Poland, they will finish top of Group D ahead of the knockout stages. 

  • Scotland denied '100% penalty' against Hungary, says Clarke Scotland denied '100% penalty' against Hungary, says Clarke

    Scotland head coach Steve Clarke was adamant his side should have been awarded a penalty as their Euro 2024 campaign ended with a 1-0 defeat to Hungary in Stuttgart. 

    Kevin Csoboth scored the winning goal in the 10th minute of injury-time to put Scotland out of another major tournament in the group stages. 

    However, things could have been much different for Clarke's side.

    Stuart Armstrong looked to have skipped beyond Hungary's Willi Orban in the 80th minute, before the RB Leipzig defender grappled across the midfielder, with both tumbling inside the area. 

    Referee Facundo Tello waved away Scotland's appeals, and a subsequent check by VAR deemed the challenge not worthy of awarding a spot-kick. 

    “It was 100% a penalty," Clarke said. "Somebody, somewhere has to explain to me why that's not a penalty. It’s a one goal game, we get the penalty and it could have been a different night.

    “I've got other words, but I'm not going to use them. I don't understand how VAR can look at that and say it's not a penalty.

    “In a European competition, it may have been better to have a European referee but we had European VAR and maybe a referee didn't see the challenge clearly on the pitch, so what's the purpose of VAR if they are not going to come in on something like that. It was a penalty.”

    Having qualified for successive European Championships, this was Scotland’s 12th major tournament group stage, and in 50% of those they have failed to win a single match – at the 1954, 1958, 1986, and 1998 World Cups and EURO 2020 and 2024.

    “We gave everything, there’s nothing you can fault there. It was a very tough game against a good opponent," said Clarke. "A very close game that was always going to be decided by the first goal. You could tell that after half an hour.

    “Unfortunately for us when we opened up towards the end of the game to try and chase the winner, that we felt we needed to get to the next stage, we got caught on the counter.”

  • Euro 2024 Data Dive: Late goals and broken records tee up dramatic finish to Group A Euro 2024 Data Dive: Late goals and broken records tee up dramatic finish to Group A

    Sunday's action at Euro 2024 saw the conclusion of Group A, with late drama ensuring a last-gasp shake up to the standings.

    Germany looked sure to be on the end of a shock defeat to Switzerland until substitute Niclas Fullkrug stepped up to make it 1-1 in stoppage time and send the hosts through as group winners.

    Meanwhile, Scotland crashed out of the tournament without a win after conceding the latest goal ever scored at the Euros, with Hungary keeping their hopes of knockout football alive with their 1-0 victory.

    Here, we run through all the best Opta stats to emerge from the day's matches.

    Switzerland 1-1 Germany: Neuer makes history, but Fullkrug grabs headlines

    Having already qualified for the last 16, the hosts left it late to seal top spot in the group, needing Fullkrug to make a much-needed impact off the bench in Frankfurt.

    Dan Ndoye had given Switzerland a first-half lead with his maiden international goal to become the nation's second-youngest goalscorer at the Euros (aged 23 years 242 days), but Switzerland could not hold on.

    Manuel Neuer was left helpless against the forward's first-time finish on his 18th appearance at the European Championships, the most among goalkeepers at the tournament (overtaking Gianluigi Buffon – 17). At major tournaments, only Cristiano Ronaldo (45) has played in more games than the Bayern Munich stopper (37).

    Julian Nagelsmann named the same starting XI for three consecutive games, the first time Germany have done so in the competition's history, though it looked like tiredness was starting to take its toll as they struggled to break down their opponents.

    Toni Kroos finished the game with a passing accuracy of 92.5%, only averaging lower than that in one game for Real Madrid in 2023-24), but also equalled a record in the late drama.

    Having completed 323 passes so far at Euro 2024, Kroos has made the joint-most on record (since 1980) by a player in the group stage since himself at Euro 2016 (also 323).

    Germany eventually had 18 shots, with Fullkrug picking out the top corner with the final one; the striker has scored 13 goals in just 19 international appearances, while his four as a substitute at major tournaments are more than any other European player.

    Despite ultimately losing out on top spot, Switzerland have now gone unbeaten in their last four games against Die Mannschaft (W1 D3), with no nation currently enjoying a longer unbeaten streak against Germany (England and Spain both have ongoing runs of four).

    Scotland 0-1 Hungary: Csoboth breaks Tartan Army's hearts

    Meanwhile in Stuttgart, it was Hungary celebrating a late strike to seal a 1-0 victory that ensured an early exit for Scotland as they chased what would have been a landmark win.

    Kevin Csoboth cemented his place in European Championship history with his counter-attacking finish as he netted the latest goal ever scored in the tournament's history (excluding extra time), timed at 99 minutes and 32 seconds.

    Despite needing a win to finish third, Scotland failed to have a single shot on target in the game. In total, the Tartan Army had just 17 shots at Euro 2024 – since the group stage was introduced in 1980, it is the joint-fewest by a national team, along with Northern Ireland at Euro 2016.

    Indeed, only twice at Euro 2024 has a team failed to manage a shot on target in the first half of a match and both have been Scotland (also on MD 1 against Germany).

    Scotland pushed numbers forward for their last-minute corner with the hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Euros for the first time, but instead will leave a major tournament group stage without a win for the sixth time (1954, 1958, 1986 and 1998 World Cups and Euro 2020 and 2024).

    While looking down and out after failing to win either of their opening games, Hungary finally ended a run of eight games in the competition without a win, registering their first victory since beating Austria 2-0 at Euro 2016 – this was also their first clean sheet since that win.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.