When he used to line up against Arsenal for Manchester United during the days when we were the big two battling it out for the Premier League and FA cup trophies, Gary Neville was one of those players that we loved to hate. He was a real pain in the backside and loved to wind up the Arsenal players and get stuck in.
But I think most of us have really warmed to him in his new role as a TV pundit and must admit that he is very good at it. And looking back, I have to admit that he was one of the very best right backs the Premier League has ever seen, which is probably another reason we didn’t like him when he was playing against us.
But his playing career and his new roles as pundit and England’s assisant manager suggest that he does know a thing or two about football, especially about being a full back. So his fulsome praise of the Gunners’ young Spanish right back Hector Bellerin, reported by the Daily Mail, is especially welcome.
Neville declares that he has been extremely impressed by the 19-year old this season, especially after he looked shaky when thrown into the cauldron of an away game with Borussia Dortmund. The former Red Devil predicts a bright future for our starlet, especially after revealing the blistering pace that has seen him break some of the club’s speed records held by Walcott and Henry.
Neville said, “The one that stood out most for me having watched him come back into the team against Manchester City and see him at close hand [against Villa] was Bellerin the full back.
“He was thrust into the team in September [at Borussia Dortmund] and he really struggled. He looked like it was too early for him.
“He got put back into another big game against Manchester City and he was massively impressive.
“The first thing is – has he got speed? I was told he beat not only Walcott’s record but Henry’s record for over 40 metres.
“He’s lightning quick. That gives you a great chance as a full back.
“[Bellerin is] going to get tested by Christian Eriksen at the weekend, who’s going to give him a different type of problem.
“But he’s come into the team and its great for a young player to see them develop and mature.”
Bellerin’s form is great news for everyone concerned with Arsenal, except maybe Debuchy and Chambers. I’m sure that Debuchy will get his place back after his injury, but has Bellerin now left Chambers with just a centre back role to hope for?