The Magpies are being dragged into another relegation battle as they are enduring a horrible run of form.
Manager Steve Bruce is drawing ire from the fans, but Neville believes Ashley and his lack of investment in the club is the problem.
Neville said on Sky Sports: "If you said to me before the game, I would've thought Newcastle were going to get beat, irrespective of eight changes.
"I'd expect Newcastle to get beat at Arsenal most seasons to be honest with you, they've not raised my expectations to a level where they can go and win there. He shouldn't be judged on just tonight.
"Newcastle are 15th in the league, it's where I'd expect them to be, Newcastle fans won't enjoy me saying that. But at the start of last season, they were expected to go down and didn't do.
"This season, where did they expect to be? Probably between 11th and 15th or 16th and that's where they are."
He added: "They need new ownership, don't they? It's just obvious. The owner is willing to sell, tried to put one through and it wouldn't go through.
"That's the only thing that can really dramatically change that club. It needs to happen as quickly as possible."