Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta has spoken out on Gary Neville’s ‘little mafia’ comment, relating to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette.
Neville was one of many pundits to criticise Arsenal’s performance against Liverpool on Saturday, where the Gunners were comfortably beaten by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Arsenal also failed to dribble past a single Liverpool defender during the game, leading to Gary Neville’s criticism of Aubameyang, Pepe and Lacazette.
Arteta has now replied to those comments ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Slavia Prague in the Europa League.
“No, no response,” Arteta explained, as quoted by the Metro.
“I think we have to respect every opinion, and when there is criticism coming after the way we played against Liverpool, we have to take it on the chin. Because any criticism we get – with the way we played – is fully deserved.
“So it’s not time to respond – it’s time to talk on the pitch and show what we can do which, when we are at full gas, is a lot.
“The only thing I’m saying, whether it’s the one from Gary or Jamie [Carragher] or whoever is talking about us, and after the performance that we had against Liverpool, we have to perform, and that’s the only thing we have to do.”
SL View – Could the Europa League be Arsenal’s saving grace this season?
While Arsenal’s league season is not going to plan, the Europa League represents their last route into Europe for next season.
The Gunners are considered the second favourites with the bookmakers, while Manchester United are favourites.
Arsenal are historically pretty good in the competition, and facing Slavia Prague gives them a big opportunity to make the semi-finals.
The key to Arsenal’s hopes lie with Arteta getting a tune out of his expensive attack.
Aubameyang, Pepe and Lacazette may have been branded a ‘little mafia’ by Neville, but they still possess immense talent.
If Arteta can get them firing on all cylinders again, there is no reason why Arsenal cannot win the Europa League.