It makes a change for the football pundits on television to be so full of praise for Arsenal, but it is nice to hear nonetheless, especially when it is not just one Arsenal player who is being lauded for his performance, but the whole team.
The way the Gunners played in our north London derby win over Tottenham deserved it though, so maybe we should not be so surprised to read the Sky Sports report in which the former Manchester United and England defender talked about the game being the best he has seen Arsenal play for a long time.
Despite the fact that the often critical Neville was happy to say that every single player in an Arsenal shirt performed very well yesterday, he did point to the influence of our attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil; and Alexandre Lacazette as the most important part of our game.
He said, “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 ten 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 number one to 11. There wasn’t a poor performer.
“Graeme Souness this morning said what Arsenal will turn up probably referring to those [front] three. 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.
“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.
“Ozil is fantastic on the ball. A great decision maker but he can become despondent. His body language can set the tone for the rest of the actual players on the pitch and the stadium.
“Today I can think of a Mousa Dembele challenge in the first half. His work rate in getting back was there and why can’t we see that every single time?
“Thierry Henry said it in commentary ‘they’ve set a standard’. We’ve seen what they can do now and those three can win an incredible amount of points for this football club because the rest of those teammates will come with them if they can perform like that.”
I take his point and it seems pretty obvious that any team needs it’s best players to perform well to be at or close to their best, but if the form of our forwards really is so important to Arsenal then it is vital that the boss somehow gets them to play like this every week.
Can Wenger do that? If so just how well can the Gunners do this season?