Last Updated: 14 June 2023, Author: AceOdds.com
Following on from our interview with Michael Owen, in our next video we speak with Arsenal legend, Ray Parlour. We asked Ray for his thoughts on Arsenal's current form and if they can win the English Premier League. Ray also talks about if any of the the current crop of Arsenal players would get into that 'Invincibles' team from the 03/04 season and which one of them he would most like to go on a night out with.
From what I've seen so far, I was lucky to go pre-season with them, they all seem a good bunch of lads.
Our era was a little bit crazy. The early 90s was always that Tuesday club and all that.
If I could pick one, I think what I've seen so far, I'd pick Jesus. He looks like a little party animal, and he likes a night out. I know that for a fact.
He seems a really good lad as well. He's always got a smile on his face. Or Saka as well, he's always smiling. But if I had to pick one, then it's probably Jesus. I think he likes a beer more than Saka.
I really get on with everyone... Bruce Rioch even gave me a new contract.
George Graham used to fine me, but he was trying to teach me a lesson. He was exactly right, half the time, by fining me.
[Arsene] Wenger was the best, by a mile. He was always the one who brought out the best in me. I
The least I liked... George [Graham] gave me my debut I can't say him!
Phil Brown was good as gold because I wasn't there long for Hull City and Steve McClaren. Probably if I had to pick one... I mean, Bruce [Rioch] probably, because I didn't spend that much time with him. He was only there for eight or nine months.
It would probably be Bruce... but he gave me a new contract so he can't be that bad!
Well obviously the press were the main people who ramped it all up, I promise you now we didn't even speak about it in the dressing room. The most important thing was winning the league.
Then obviously, we had four games left after we won the title at Spurs. They were probably the hardest challenge we had to play, because you can always take your foot off the pedal, relax, and say "look, we've done our job this year, winning this title".
But I reckon probably eight games out. The press was really starting to say "this team hasn't been beaten yet". I know we had some tricky games still to play, especially Spurs away which is where we won the title.
We had a really good chance but we only spoke about it after we won the league with four games to go.
I don't think I had the bottle to do that. I mean, if it was George Graham, you wouldn't do that to George.
I think Arsene Wenger was always a little bit more relaxed. I remember, believe it or not, little Marc Overmars had a fart machine in his pocket in one of the team meetings and he keep pushing the button.
All you heard was [fart noises] and it was like "what's going on?" Wenger said nothing in the end. Little Marc Overmars was a little prankster.
But I was always respectful to my managers. You can have a laugh with your teammates, but with managers, you've got to be careful. If you get on the wrong side of them, they won't play you. Simple as that.
I'm trying to think who was in it...
Jack Wilshere. He was there, wasn't he? He would certainly would be one of them. I'm pleased he's still involved in the club.
Saka has obviously been absolutely brilliant.
If I had to pick one more, I'm trying to think through the era's... Fabregas was there at 15 years old, if that counts.
If not, I would probably say... I know he's had his injuries, but I think potentially [Emile] Smith Rowe. He'll be a top player.
So I'll go with Smith Rowe, Saka and Wilshire.
I think the team spirit has been very good.
As I said before, I'm very lucky to go on pre-season tours. I watched the lads training quite a few times and you can see the energy and the enthusiasm. Everybody was listening to coaches and he's got a big coaching staff there.
You can see this togetherness, which is so important in the team. You've got to be all together, you know, where there's no one who dislikes each other. Over the years you've had players falling out with each other and that doesn't work in a successful team. You don't have to like each other, but you respect each other and do your best for each other in a game. But I saw a good team spirit.
I think the levels of energy have been excellent, the closing down is better, they're doing what the manager says, which is the most important thing. I think they've grown as a team because they're young and they believe in themselves. Their confidence has got higher.
I think they're all good players and I think recruitment's been excellent as well. Most clubs will say recruitment is the most important thing, which it is. Bringing in Zinchenko, Jesus, players with a bit of experience who have won trophies. I think some of the signings have been excellent.
Injuries haven't been as frequent. Partey's been very important staying fit, I know he's injured at the moment, but you know, certain players have stayed fitter throughout the season.
Look, there's a long way to go, but it's been a great season already for Arsenal. They've just got to keep it going now.
Yeah, I think you ain't gonna get a better opportunity if I've been honest. It's a great opportunity to be sitting top of the league going into March.
So you know, I always say with eight games to go. It's a little bit of a different season with the World Cup. Usually you're getting to march, you haven't got that many games, but now there's still 14/15 games left, so there's still a long way to go.
All they can do really is keep picking points up. Keep trying to stay top of the league. That's difficult. Sometimes it's always better to chase a team because there's more pressure on the top side. But if you've got eight games to go and you still got a chance, then you've really got to knuckle down and just put everything into every game and see where it takes you.
But I don't think they're gonna get a better chance. Liverpool will strengthen, I should imagine, they need to invest. Manchester United are gonna get stronger with obviously the takeover, and maybe there's more money for them to spend.You don't know what's going to happen with Newcastle and clubs like that, are they gonna get stronger?
So I think they're in a position now where they're in a real good opportunity to win that title.
I think Jorginho, as much as people said "he's got a little bit older", I think he's a really good replacement for Partey if he's out. Partey is obviously number one, in that midfield.
I was always worried about the midfield, if I'm being honest, because if Partey was injured we didn't really have a backup in that midfield area. Lokonga is a good player but he's a bit young to put in there yet. He's still learning.
Probably Striker. I think Eddie Nketiah has done brilliant, he really has, since Jesus has been out. But just that clinical finishing, you see against Man City, we had a couple of really good chances. Sometimes you've just got to take them against the big sides.
Other than that, I think most of the positions feel strong. Full-back areas. Centre half. You know, number 10, you can put me throw Smith Rowe in there if you wanted and Ødegaard in there. So, I think just one more striker in there would have been nice.
In my era, while we had four top-quality strikers: Wiltord, Kanu, Bergkamp and Henry. Now you look at Eddie and Jesus, Martinelli could potentially play up there but he's better in wide areas, so you've only got two at the moment. I think another striker will be the icing on the cake for Arsenal.
I think harmony is very important, I really do. Everybody's really working hard for each other.
You could probably argue Saka. He's 21 years old, for what he's achieved so far, what he's gone through in his career, you know, missing penalties and how he's come back from that for England and the abuse he got. He's a real level-headed kid who's gonna get better and better. So potentially he's gonna be world-class, there's no doubt about that.
And I think Ødegaard, actually. I'm not saying he's world-class at the moment, but he's been sensational this year, he really has. I mean for 35 million, what they bought it for, he's an absolute bargain now. With the performances he's played, skipper of the club, so I've been so impressed with him as well.
But if I pick one, I'd probably choose Saka as having the highest potential to be a World-Class player.
I'd probably only go with Saka.
Defending-wise, they've done really well at the back, I'm not saying they haven't, but back then you had a solid back forward in Ashley Cole, Lauren, Sol Campbell, Kolo had a great season.
Then your midfield was always very efficient. Maybe you can argue Partey could maybe get in there alongside Patrick [Viera] or Gilberto [Silva].
Saka could maybe play on the right. Bergkamp and Henry, you wouldn't get in front of two. Perez was brilliant that year as well.
So I'd probably say, the only one would be Saka.
Oh, definitely! [laughs]
I don't know, really. I mean, I hate to start talking about myself about where I'd get into different sides. Obviously I played in three very successful sides.
In 98, you could argue 98 was better than The Invincibles season. That was a brilliant team as well, with Overmars on the left. In 02 I was in. In 04, I was more stepping in off the bench sometimes or if people were injured I stepped in. I could play right midfield, central midfield.
I would hope I could get in somewhere along the line with this team. I wouldn't be on the right because Saka's there. Maybe central midfield if I really put my mind to it.
I think a little bit of belief, if I'm being honest.
I know they were playing against a good Man City side. I don't think it's good as five years ago, Man City, so they're beatable.
I thought the first half, they played alright Arsenal. They had their chances, but you got to take your chances in big games like that.
Eddie [Nketia] will be looking after the game and saying that "I should have scored at least one of those headers" maybe.
I think they froze a little bit second half. They didn't really adapt to what Man City done in the second half, which you've got to do against big sides. It's not always about the manager. It's about players on the pitch seeing where the dangers are and dealing with it straight away on the pitch. So I don't think they've done that well.
But for me: believing. Believing that you're a better side than City and going out proving it. I just there was a little bit of nervousness, especially that second half, knowing how big the game was.
I think they've got good experience as well.
Partey's an experienced player, played in Europe. Xhaka is a very experienced player. Gabrielle, you could argue, has experience at the back. But I don't think so.
Zinchenko is going to be important, and Jesus, people like that who've been there and done it. They've even bought Jorginho now, he's won the Champions League.
So now you've got a couple of players in that squad who have won trophies, some of them have won big trophies as well. League titles, the Champions League, who are going to be very important for that dressing room area.
So I think they've got enough experience now and young players sometimes can play fearless, you know, you can see him go out there and enjoy it. Sometimes the pressure doesn't really kick in for young players because they just get on with it.
As it said before, they ain't gonna get a better chance this year to win the title. So they've just got to believe in themselves. I know that's an old cliche, but one game at time.
Against Aston Villa it looked like it "oh no, this is going to be another defeat" - but he found a way to get a result and that is so important in the game of football. You don't always play well but you got to find a way to get a result.
That's why we got unbeaten in the end. There were times we were getting hammered, but we always found a way to get at least a point out of the game and that's what Arsenal have got to do now.
Oh, he's been brilliant. Yeah, he's really good.
The way he gets on the ball and he's always on the half-turn. He always wants it. He's never injured. He's a really fit guy as well. Skipper of the club now but I can see him getting better or better.
That's why Real Madrid went for him as a youngster, seen his potential. Didn't really work out for him there, but now he's got platform and you can tell how important he is. Not just for playing for but team, but getting the armband and being skipper as well.
That's a big statement from Mikel Arteta to say about this guy. In training he shows a great example to people and he's a massive star for the future. If he keeps improving like he is, and he's still a young lad, he's gonna be a real star going forward.
Well, he would have been another great signing, there's no doubt. He's shown glimpses already in a Chelsea shirt. Especially at debut against Liverpool, I thought he was excellent.
But you know, sometimes money talks. I'm not gonna knock him for going for the money, good luck to him. To get an 8-year contract with wages like he's got, that secures his family for the rest of their lives. So I can see why he's done it. He's got no allegiances with Arsenal.
But look, sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some in the transfer market and you can't worry about it. You got to get on with the next signing and see who's available after that.
I think Trossard has been a good signing. I think he's bringing a little bit more to this team as well. What he's done at Brighton was excellent. So, he's stepping up again with Arsenal and who knows? Trossard could end up with a league title over the end of the season. Which won't be a bad move for him coming from Brighton, who are having a great season themselves by the way.
Well, they've brought in so many signings, but now it's up to Graham Potter to try and get the best out of them, trying to find out the right formation, right personnel in every week. It's gonna be very difficult. He hasn't got magic wand that we can wave and then suddenly, it's all gonna fit into place.
He's got to watch training, he's got see what we can tinker with. But obviously, they spent big money. Chelsea fans can't argue that they haven't put the money where their mouth is.
For me, they need a striker. Aubameyang's not involved and Havertz can play as a number 10 behind the striker, but to be honest, they haven't got a real goal scorer like they used to have.
People like Hasselbaink, when he was there, and guys like that. So I think the striker position is probably where they'll look in the summer... if they do go out and buy another couple of players.
Well he's a young lad, but from what I've seen so far he looks good, he really has. He looks like he can adapt right into the Premier League straight away.
But in this day and age, prices are so inflated. You go back to Van Dyke going to Liverpool for £70 million, everybody was like "£70 million for a centre half?" Now what he's achieved at Liverpool has been amazing. No one worries about the fee after that. He's been money well spent, in my eyes, from Liverpool's point of view.
I think Fernandez could be the same. Now he's got a knuckle down, he's a young lad, he's only going to improve, he's played in the World Cup winning side in Argentina.
I think the money is definitely inflated, but that's the going rate right now. People have release causes in their contract and you've got to meet these causes or you don't sign them.
I think that he's gonna be a good signing and I think in three or four years' time people might forget about how much he was, when he's doing really well for Chelsea.
Well, certainly you got to give him a chance. I know the League position is terrible. I don't think some of the press conferences he gives after games of ideal for Graham Potter.
He said about Southampton "they're a good side" and whatever - they're bottom of the league, with no manager. I'm not being rude to Graham Potter, but you've got to be beating sides like that at Stanford Bridge.
The problem you've got with fans is they're really impatient. He's taken a massive step up from Brighton. So it's a totally different club. At Brighton you can lose two or three games and you get away with it, then you win the next couple and you're okay.
Chelsea, the expectations are so high. You want to be challenging for the top four, not just that, but trying to challenge for the title. They've been there under Jose [Mourinho] and other different managers.
So but I do feel sorry for him as well, because they're bought loads of players and you've got to let him have a chance to get his right formation. I don't think he knows his best team yet, that's the big problem.
So he's got to find that out for himself with his coaching staff and once he gets his best team and get a couple of results, you can kick on with them. Simple as that. I don't think you can just rotate when you've got a winning formula. Keep the same team if they're fit and that's what he's got to do now.
But we all know, in football you don't get long, especially in big clubs like Chelsea.
I'm pleased that they've come out and said "Look, we're gonna give him a chance" because you can't keep chopping and changing managers as well, who's available after Potter? That's the big question.
People may argue, why did they get rid of [Thomas] Tuchel? We don't know what happened behind the scenes. But certainly, I hope he gets a bit more of a chance and he can do well. Potentially, he could be the England manager in the future. Who knows?
I think it's been a little bit hit-and-miss this season. I've got lots of Tottenham-supporting mates who scratch their heads at times, saying "we were brilliant that week and then following week we were awful".
I think consistency is not there and the most important thing for Spurs, we all know, is winning a trophy. So I think the Champions League, while I do expect them to beat AC Milan in that second leg because I didn't think they were very good. I think they had every chance to beat them away from home at the San Siro. But I don't expect them to win the Champions League.
But the FA Cup, for me, is so important for Spurs this season. They can get a good run and they're still in it. I think that's gonna be very important and if Conte can take them to a trophy this year it's been a very successful season. Even if they don't come in the top 4.
The race for fourth place is huge. I believe Man City, Arsenal and Man United will be first, second and third. I don't know what order. But I think Liverpool, Spurs, Newcastle will all be fighting for that fourth place.
I think he's going to be really interesting this summer to see what happens with Conte. I think Pochettino is still is in the background, waiting to see what happens. I think I could see Pochettino maybe going back. I think Harry [Kane] will stay then because they had a really good relationship.
If you're Harry Kane. Where'd you go after this? You ain't gonna go Man City now, they've got Haaland. Man United probably is the place he'd most likely go. I don't think he'd go Chelsea. Other than that. Where would he go?
So I think Manchester United would probably be the ones who maybe come in in the summer. I don't know what sort of money he'd be worth now? I don't think he'd be worth the money Spurs were trying to get out of Man City, he's 30 years old in July. You're getting more to the end of your career there.
But if he does stay at Spurs, all you've got to try and do then is score as many goals you can and make sure no one beats your record. He's done remarkably well to beat Jimmy Greves, what a player he was.
It's a little bit like Henry and Ian Wright. I thought no one would beat Ian Wright's record, but Henry beat it by about 50 goals in the end.
That's what Harry Kane's got to do now, can he beat Jimmy Greaves' record by 50? Then no one catches in and he'll have that record for probably the rest of his life.
I think that recruitment is going to be so important for Liverpool. I know there might be some investment coming in, to give them a little bit more funds to spend.
They've had lots of injuries as well. I mean, there's no doubt that Diaz and Jota have been out for big parts of the season. Recently Van Dijk's been out for a few weeks as well, which really cost them.
We always say about the aging midfield, I think that if you can go out and get Bellingham, even Declan Rice, I don't know where Declan Rice is going to go from West Ham. That midfield area is so important. If they can bring in some big players in that midfield, I think they could certainly bounce back very quickly.
I think Nunez is going to be a good signing. He's going to get better, put it this way. He does make some runs and he's pacey. He does get offside quite often, but I think he's going to improve and learn his trade a bit better.
But I think the midfield area, for me, so important. I think they're okay at full back. Trent has got to defend a little bit better at times, but I like the way goes forward. Love Robertson at left back, I think he's a top class player. Van Dijk's gonna be there.
I just feel the midfield area they're just lacking something in there and if they can get someone like Bellingham, which is being reported, then I think they could certainly bounce back.
I think every job is under pressure.
That's the day and age of football now. For every single job, people know exactly what they have to do to keep their jobs.
I think Jurgen Klopp will be realistic about the season, it hasn't been good enough for Liverpool's standards, we all know that. But it's all about bouncing back, and he needs to be given a little bit of time.
I mean, if they start the season badly next year, there will certainly pressure on him. I think recruitment is going to be so important in the summer.
I'm sure they will start the season well. I think he's a top class manager Jurgen Klopp and there's not many managers out there as good as him.
So when you want to sack managers, it's all about who you're gonna bring in after and you've seen with Leeds, they haven't had a plan. It's alright sacking manages but I think you've always got to have someone behind the scenes, tapping people up and saying "are you interested?"
Lot's of people have said [Diego] Simeone over the years, to come to the Premier League. Which would be interesting. But I certainly think Jurgen Klopp deserves a little bit more time, and I think he'll get it right. Definitely.
What a singing Ten Hag has been. I didn't doubt him at the start of him coming in. He had a few problems, obviously, Ronaldo was his big problem. Trying to get rid of him, which he done in the end, and now you see them playing with so much confidence.
I think they've improving as a team again. There's probably going to be investment again in Manchester United in the summer. They could be a real force next year. I believe they can be. I think they'll certainly be challenging for the title next year.
I think they're gonna be third this year. They're gonna be trying to chase down Man City and Arsenal, but I think they'll be third, which will be Champions League football, which will be so important for the club as well. But I think next season, they could have a real go.
If they can get the recruitment right again in summer and bring in a couple of real top class players. Casemiro has been a great signing for the midfield, very calm and knows exactly how to win trophies. Rashford's been amazing. Then you've got people like Sancho who could suddenly now, find his feet after problems he's had.
I think Ten Hag has been a brilliant signing for Manchester United's point of view. If he gets a bit of help from the board, I'm certain they'll be one of the favorites next year to go for the title.
It's got to be forward, hasn't it. That's why they're always linked with Harry Kane.
I mean, if Harry Kane was in that team, Rashford could play on the left-hand side still get his goals as well. Sancho maybe off the right, if he's in form, that would be some front three.
Their midfield is pretty strong, Casemiro's got plenty more years in his legs, probably. You've got Fernandes in there as well who's been good.
Centre half position maybe you look at. Full backs are pretty solid,Luke Shaw has been good.
So I believe strikers will be their main target to bring in for the summer.
Obviously, it's a worry for the club. They wouldn't be getting investigated if there was nothing there to investigate. So there's some sort of breach of the rules.
I hope the league don't take trophies off them. I don't think it can do that, anyway. I mean, whatever team has been out there planing, you could argue you wouldn't have had those players if you didn't breach the rules, if found guilty. But this one will rumble on for quite a few years, I should imagine.
I know they'll have the best lawyer to see what sort of loopholes there were in that era. There are always loopholes where people get around certain situations, a little bit like Chelsea now giving people nine-year contracts and paying in instalments. So the Premier League have probably got to clamp down on down on that as well.
I think Eddie's [Howe] done a great job with the squad he's had. Everybody thought when they got bought out that suddenly money's going to be flying around but I've done it a really good way. They've gone out and they've gradually got better.
I'm sure there will be good investment again for Newcastle in the summer, but they will do it the right way. It will take time, but they will get there because money talks. Always has done. If you go and spend the money on certain players, then you're going to be a better team.
I certainly believe Newcastle are here to stay. In and around that top four, which is great for the league, because we don't always want to see the top four exactly the same every single season. You want to see people trying to break into it and mix it up. It makes it more exciting for everybody watching from the outside.