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Gary Neville cites the key problem Mikel Arteta needs to solve quickly if Arsenal are to win the title



Arsenal remain five points clear at the top of the Premier League table after coming from behind to grab a late win over Bournemouth, but still have a long way to go

Gary Neville believes Arsenal will need to step up their defense if they are to win the Premier League title, despite Saturday’s dramatic win.

Mikel Arteta’s side lost 2-0 to Bournemouth after an hour’s play at the Emirates Stadium, but three goals in the last 30 minutes changed all that. Reiss Nelson came off the bench to score a winning last gasp, the third time Arsenal had won a game in the last minute since the start of the year, but Neville remained concerned about Gunners’ punctures in defence.

Arsenal conceded just 11 goals in 14 games before the World Cup break, opening up a five-point lead over nearest challengers Manchester City. That margin is still there, but the Gunners have played him 14 of 12 since returning to action after the midseason break. “I thought City had a tougher game,” Neville said on the Gary Neville Podcast. “They would be more likely to drop points in my mind, if at all – I didn’t think either team would do that to be fair.

“So City have done their job and you expect Arsenal to go and win comfortably. The fact that they won that way gives them that extra spirit and zest because it’s a game you would expect. whether they win 2-2.0 or 3-0 just because Bournemouth are second from bottom.

But they made it really difficult for themselves. They have real momentum, they have a surge of spirit, the fans are with them, I would tell them to stop conceding.
“It sounds very simple to say, but when you concede goals in the run-up it’s very tough and they conceded two against Bournemouth, against Brentford, against United, Villa and City. They have conceded quite a lot, I think eleven in the last eight games.

“So they just have to manage it a little bit because they have 12 games left now. City are not playing at their best yet. We have a pretty good title race.”

However, he always backed City to get the upper hand. “I made my prediction at the start of the season and I won’t change my mind about Manchester City,” Neville said.

Four of Arsenal’s next six games will be against teams in the bottom half of the table, but Arteta’s men will also face tough trips to Fulham and Liverpool. Marco Silva’s Cottagers have 10 points from five home games since the December restart, while Jurgen Klopp’s Reds have lost just one league game at home all season, winning their last three at Anfield by an overall record of 11-0.