‘How would I play as a right-back in that match?’: Gary Neville says football is ‘a different level’ from his day after Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool… and admits he can’t believe how Cesar Azpilicueta has adapted given he once played against him
- Chelsea fought back to draw 2-2 with Liverpool in a gripping match on Sunday
- Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah put Liverpool into a 2-0 lead at Stamford Bridge
- But goals from Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic hauled Chelsea level
Gary Neville has heaped praise on Chelsea and Liverpool’s full-backs after their performances in Sunday’s gripping 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge – but admits he doesn’t know he would have handled playing in such a match.
Chelsea fought back from two goals down to draw level with Liverpool in a blockbuster first half, and neither side were unable to find a breakthrough in the second.
Speaking on the Gary Neville podcast on Sky Sports, the former Manchester United defender delivered a fascinating break down of how the full-backs performed.
Gary Neville has opened up on how he feels the game has evolved since his playing days
He heaped praise on the like of Trent Alexander-Arnold and the full-backs who were in action in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday
Neville also credited Cesar Azpilicueta, who he once played against in his own career
‘When it comes to the game itself, I was looking at the game today thinking “how would I play as a right-back in that match?”. I would have coped, maybe, because you adapt with fitness but that is a different level to what I had to face as a player 10 or 11 years ago.
‘I didn’t have to play like Trent Alexander-Arnold, nor Reece James, even (Cesar) Azpilicueta who is an experienced player that I used to play against. You ask him what he’s asked to do as a right-wing back today, and Alonso. It’s a big ask.
‘To continually be challenged one-on-one, the runs in behind that are being made and the speed they are being made, with the timing of the passes – the game is quicker, they are running harder and they are running faster. We know that, we have the actual proof.
‘The idea the game used to be quicker is rubbish. That is proven to be wrong – the players are better athletes than we were 10 or 11 years ago. And they are doing it technically better and tactically better.
‘The players now are technically better and the tactical understanding and the level of the coaches is higher than it was 12 years ago – and it is quicker.’
Neville admitted that the game is at a higher standard now than in his own career
Mohamed Salah put Liverpool two goals ahead with a brilliant finish at Stamford Bridge
But Chelsea hit back and Christian Pulisic hauled them level shortly before the half-time break
Sadio Mane put Liverpool ahead at Stamford Bridge before Mohamed Salah doubled the lead. But a stunning volley by Mateo Kovacic followed by a Christian Pulisic strike hauled Chelsea level.
The draw for both sides ultimately hindered their pursuit of catching Premier League leaders Manchester City.
City are 10 points clear of Chelsea in second and 11 ahead of Liverpool, who have a game in hand after their Boxing Day match against Leeds was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak at Elland Road.
Liverpool are next in action on Thursday away to Arsenal in the League cup semi-final while Chelsea meet Tottenham in the other last-four tie.