Football

Neville, Henry praise Gunners stars but have doubt over their consistency

Pundits praise Gunners stars, but

When Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted they would let their feet do the talking in the North London Derby, not many were convinced.

But the Gunners turned on the style at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, shredding Tottenham Hotspur apart in a 2-0 win courtesy of first-half goals by Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez.

Former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes the five-star performance by the hosts ranks among the best he has seen of Wenger's men.

The Sky Sports pundit said on the Gary Neville Podcast: "I didn't think Arsenal would lose before the game being honest because I think after international duty, to go away from home at 12.30pm, is not easy.

"But that's as good as I've seen Arsenal, it really is. I wondered after 10 minutes would they be able to keep it up?

"Is it just a bold start that would fizzle out? But it was a really, really good performance.

"Overall, my assessment of the game today was Arsenal were absolutely fantastic from No. 1 to 11. There wasn't a poor performer."

The pre-match talk had been dominated by suggestions of Spurs having overtaken Arsenal as the kings of north London, especially after last season, when the Gunners finished behind their fierce rivals in the league for the first time in 22 years.

Neville believes that Saturday's display by Arsenal also showed how important it is for their key players to inject some consistency into their game.

Sanchez and Mesut Oezil, widely regarded the team's two best players, and new boy Alexandre Lacazette combined to create havoc among a Tottenham defence considered to be one of the best in the English top flight.

Said Neville: "They turned up. From minute one, they pressed onto that Tottenham back three, made them anxious and made them nervous.

"A very good back three as well by the way. I have to say I thought the intent from that front three, supported well and sustained by Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey, won them the game in terms of setting the tone."

Neville added: "If you think about the teams I played in and you'll have seen it yourself over the years, when the best players in the team are setting the tone and working hard and making challenges, the rest of you follow and come with you.

"They are leaders by their price tag, their reputation and their skill. They've not always been leaders by their work ethic and their attitude.

"Maybe that's a bit unkind on Lacazette but the other two have definitely fallen below standards at times in the last 12 to 18 months.

"Today, they were fantastic and I couldn't speak highly enough about Sanchez. He's a brilliant player.

"I thought Lacazette's positions were sensational and caused real problems for Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen in terms of tying them back."

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry feels that the challenge now is for the team to keep up that level of performance.

The Gunners visit Burnley next Sunday, before hosting Huddersfield and then Manchester United the following week.

Said Henry: "Again, the question mark is still there, can you do that more often, please?

"The performance they put on today, they're going to have to back it up now, and make sure you play like that all of the time."

While Arsenal drew praise for rising to the occasion, Spurs copped plenty of flak for their mediocrity.

BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks, an ex-Spurs forward, said: "This is a serious Arsenal team. They're going for the throat.

"And Spurs didn't respond to that. They kept playing all nice and comfortable."

- WIRE SERVICES

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