Gary Neville thought Arsenal could get ‘eaten alive’ at Newcastle but ‘grew up’ in St James’ Park win

Gary Neville was left surprised by Arsenal’s performance as the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners over Newcastle United. The former Manchester United defender felt the Magpies would eat Arsenal alive prior to the game, so impressive was the atmosphere at St. James’ Park.

Neville told Sky sports: “I though they could get eaten alive here today. On the way up I thought they’d get eaten alive and then when I saw the atmosphere before the game and in the first five minutes, nothing that I saw changed my mind.

“It was ferocious. I have to say Arsenal grew up here today a lot.

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“Mikel Arteta deserves a lot of credit for picking Jorginho. I think a lot of people would have said with Newcastle’s energy to get Partey back in midfield.

“The goal by Odegaard and the class he showed in the first 25, 30 minutes was outstanding. The way in which Jorginho composed them, he guided those players, they’ve lacked that in the last few weeks because Martinelli and Saka are still not at their best in the game today.

“But, what happened was the composure shown from Odegaard and Jorginho was there for all to see.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been lauded for his decision to play Jorginho in the heart of midfield, rather than the more physical Thomas Partey to counteract the Magpies’ combativeness.

“It’s hard to explain,” Neville said. “The reason I think many Manchester United players, Pep Guardiola and others around Europe over the last 25 years, have said Paul Scholes was their favourite player, was because in moments like that, when it’s the hardest atmosphere, the biggest away game, the most difficult to play, those players are very unique.

“They just have the composure, that balance and ability to get the team playing. That’s what it reminded me of today what Jorginho did.

“He was so calm and composed, he was absolutely fantastic. Arsenal have gone up in my expectations a lot because I didn’t expect that.

“I expected them to fall here but they’ve now put the pressure back on Manchester City. Those Man City players when they go to bed – not panicking because they’re experienced – but like they’ve had a dig in the ribs.”


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