Arsenal: Gary Neville in another U-turn over Gunners' Premier League title chances

Gary Neville has again changed his mind over Arsenal's Premier League title chances.

The eight-time league champion tipped the Gunners for glory at the beginning of the season, only to backtrack earlier in February despite watching Mikel Arteta's side beat table-topping Liverpool.

Neville believes Arsenal’s much-talked-about wild celebrations at full-time suggested a lack of belief they could go the distance and a wider lack of maturity, along with a long-standing lack of a proven striker.

But, just a week later, after seeing the Gunners thump West Ham 6-0 away from home, Neville has performed another U-turn.

Mikel Arteta (IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)
Mikel Arteta (IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)

"It was around this time last year that there was a lot of pressure on Arsenal, because they were so many points clear," Neville said on Sky Sports. "Everyone thought they’d win the league. But now they are sat there in the pack, right on the shoulder, and it may suit them better.

"They’ve not produced their best form to this point but they have in the last couple of weeks started to look like they will hit the same form as last season that put them into a position of winning the league. They need to stay focused, calm and keep their players fit. They’re good in a lot of areas.

"If their front players, who are really exciting, can start to score the goals they were not at the start of the season, they have a real chance. They’re a good team and they are more experienced after last year. They did the right thing [on Sunday], they won emphatically, they are hitting form."

Neville's Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher was particularly vocal over the supposed over-celebrations after beating his former team Liverpool.

The former Manchester United defender stands by his similar concerns but feels the Gunners are in far better shape this season than last year - when they also appeared to get ahead of themselves before a record-breaking title collapse - thanks to the signing of Declan Rice and centre-back William Saliba being fit.

"The over-celebration point, it’s not a weakness," Neville added. "I know a lot of jokes have been made in the last week. Celebrate when you win or score a goal, no problem at all, but when you ramp up your excitement and anxiety levels for a long period, like they did last season…

"I always go back to Oleksandr Zinchenko, tooting his horn at fans after beating Bournemouth three months out. If you’re at that level of excitement it just saps energy. It’s not a Gary Neville thing, it’s a thing that happens. If you are constantly at full-tilt, you will use up energy. Last season, they lost their legs in the run-in. They need to remain calm and determined.

"With Declan Rice in the team, they are a lot better and William Saliba is fit. They’ve got a really good chance, Arsenal. But they are up against Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. That’s big. If Mikel Arteta drives a bus through those two and wins the league this year, it would be a monumental achievement. He’s in with a chance."