Pundits exchange sharp words after Arsenal end United run


The former players clashed over Arsenal’s first goal, and whether David de Gea should have let Xhaka’s strike end up in the back of the net

You know things have not gone well for either Liverpool or Manchester United when Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have a face-off on national TV, and that is just what happened on Sunday night as the duo had a sharp exchange of words in the Sky Sports Studio after Arsenal scored a highly-controversial 2-0 victory over bitter rivals Manchester United.

The disagreement began when the two voiced different views regarding the opening goal — a speculative long-range hit from Granit Xhaka that deceived de Gea thanks to the flight of the ball. Neville, rather surprisingly given his Old Trafford allegiances, felt that it was a big mistake by the United keeper, whereas while Carragher said it wasn’t so.

Analysing the game, United great Neville said: “I thought David de Gea made a big mistake, and for that, Manchester United lost the game. The reality is it allowed Arsenal in the second half just to play on the counter attack.”

Sky host Dave Jones then queried : “Jamie wasn’t so sure about that were you?” to which Neville cut back in: “I don’t know why he wasn’t sure about it. It’s gone in the centre of the goal from 30 yards. It’s not even a debate.”

To which Carragher responded: “Why, has everyone got to have the same opinion as you?” at this point, an irritated Neville retorted: “If the ball goes in the centre of a goalkeeper’s net from 30 yards, it’s not even a debate.”

But Carragher was not done: “It wasn’t in the centre of his net. If that had took a deflection when it moved and went in? The ball moved that much!”

Neville was not to be outdone, continuing: “David de Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He’s made a mistake, simple as that. At the end of the day, it’s got to be a goalkeeping error.”

It was Carragher who had the last word, though: “But how big is the swing from one side to the other?”

The thorny issue, as expected, had social media in splits as well, with fans as well as players and pundits agreeing to disagree almost down the middle on whether the keeper was to blame or the swerve on the ball:

The result sees United drop to fifth place in the Premier League table after 30 games played. It was also Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first defeat in the Premier League as caretaker manager of his former club.

Author’s take

The defeat is sure to rankle United, especially Solksjaer, for whom there was no bigger enemy domestically during his playing days than Arsenal. But at the same time, given where the club was when he took over and where they are now, very much in with a chance of finishing in the top four, the Norwegian will see this as a blip on their road to sealing a Champions League place for next season.

It was also poetic justice of sorts for the hosts — who’s legendary 49-game unbeaten, ‘Invincibles’ run came to an end at the hands of their biggest rivals back in 2005 in the infamous “Battle of the Buffet” at Old Trafford — so ending Solksjaer’s unbeaten run will surely make this victory even the more sweeter, apart from taking them to within a point of North London rivals Tottenham at third on the table.

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