Arsenal can still have an impressive season if star man Alexis Sanchez returns to the club with the right attitude, according to Gary Neville.
Sanchez will now remain at the Emirates for the final year of his contract after Man City saw a £60m bid for the forward turned down by the Gunners on transfer deadline day.
The Chile international was criticised for his lacklustre display when making his first appearance of the season in Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday.
And Neville believes Arsenal’s season may now hinge on which Alexis comes back from international duty next week.
“For Arsenal now, it’s all about which Sanchez turns up,” the former Man Utd and England captain told Sky Sports News. “The terrier-type player that I look at and love, or the one in the last four or five months that throws the towel in and his hands in the air at his team-mates, which I do not like.
“He’s been someone who has been difficult to warm to in the last few months, particularly at Anfield. Within the first 20 minutes after the first goal, he was throwing his arms up at his team-mates.
“And when players start doing that, then you have big problems, especially when it is coming from a star player.”
However, if Alexis now starts to perform like he did in his first three seasons at the Emirates, then Arsenal have an attack to rival anyone’s in the Premier League, says the Sky Sports pundit.
“It will be interesting to see what Sanchez turns up over the next few weeks,” said Neville.
“You look at their forward line now – [Mesut] Ozil, Sanchez, [Danny] Welbeck, [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Olivier] Giroud – that is an absolutely outstanding forward line who should destroy teams.
“They should score a bag full of goals every single game – we know they have issues in central midfield and can defend better, but if those players decide they want to perform and play, then they have a chance of having a good season.”
Arsene Wenger’s biggest problem now, however, is whether he can reintegrate the unsettled player in light of his clear desire to leave the club, says Neville.
“But it depends what attitude they have when they turn up for training,” he said. “Arsene Wenger’s first day back after international duty is a big one. He has to grip them by the scruff of the neck and somehow inspire them to play how they can.
“Rumours starting circulating this week that the players wanted him out – that’s the biggest issue.”