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Shearer Says: “Louis van Gaal can’t rely on his forwards to score goals”

| 07.01.2016

Newcastle and England legend Alan Shearer has his say on the week’s footballing topics including Leicester’s top six hopes, Man United’s need for quality strikers, Chelsea’s resurgence and more…

“Leicester need to hold onto their players for top six finish”

A team who are feeling pressure is Leicester as people question whether or not the bubble has finally burst for them. Everyone has been waiting for them to slip up and now they have hit that stumbling block. I said in my blog months ago that it’s virtually impossible to go through the season without having a blip. I mean everyone has one including Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United, and now it’s Leicester’s turn. They haven’t scored in three games and they are without Jamie Vardy for a couple of weeks so now they face two challenges this month.

Firstly they need to keep their momentum without Vardy. Secondly they need to keep hold of their players. I’m sure they have had enquiries for both Vardy and Mahrez and maybe others, so I think that those two challenges will be their priority right now. If Leicester have any ambitions about finishing in the top six or even the top four, then they have to keep hold of Vardy.

He will be one of the biggest talking points in this transfer window and no doubt will be very flattered by the interest. His form has been sensational this season, he has terrorised defences, and I know he hasn’t scored for the last three games but if anyone deserves to reap the headlines it is him because of his form this year. He deserves the speculation.

Leicester City v Chelsea - Barclays Premier League - King Power Stadium

A lot of people ask me do I think Leicester can finish in the top four and the honest answer is no. It would be amazing, but I just can’t see it happening. However, a top six finish isn’t beyond them and if that happens, you’d have to look at Ranieri as one of the managers of the season. A top six finish for Leicester would be a hell of an achievement, but it will be very difficult for them to eclipse the first half of the season.

“United need more firepower to build on Swansea win”

Man United started 2016 on the right foot but whether or not it’s the beginning of a good year for them depends on several things, including the January transfer window. They need players, especially upfront, but getting the right players in this window, that can take them to where they want to be will be tricky. The timing of Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial scoring the team’s first goals of the year was ironic as the window opens but Louis van Gaal can’t rely on them and will need more firepower.

To be fair to United though, they have definitely shown improvement in their last two games, the draw against Chelsea and then the win against Swansea was positive, even if it didn’t have everyone on the edge of their seats. They have a very winnable FA Cup game against Sheffield United next, followed by a trip to Newcastle, but continuing the momentum for the rest of the season will depend on if they can make any signings.

Manchester United v Swansea City - Barclays Premier League - Old Trafford

I know Louis van Gaal has been the latest manager to come under the microscope because of the lack of results and the way his side are playing, but what manager isn’t under pressure? It goes in cycles. Brendan Rodgers was the first manager to come under pressure, the same happened with Jose Mourinho, but this time it’s not just Van Gaal feeling the heat. Pellegrini is also under pressure because of the Pep Guardiola situation. I think the only club with real stability right now is Arsenal and for that reason, I don’t think they will ever have a better chance to win the league than this season.

“For the first time this season they have looked like the Chelsea of old”

After Chelsea’s win over Crystal Palace at the weekend, it wouldn’t surprise me if they have turned a corner. You look at the ability in the squad and they are certainly capable of going on a winning run. I have said that from the start of the season and it doesn’t take a genius to work that out. Probably for the first time this season, they looked like the Chelsea of old at Selhurst Park, particularly Costa, who was man of the match, and Fabregas who looked more like the player of old.

Costa was running behind which he hasn’t done for the vast majority of the season and that’s one of the accusations I have made of him. He hasn’t asked enough questions from defenders, but you could not accuse him of that on Sunday. I thought he was superb, he was aggressive in the right way, and he got his goal which he deserved. Fabregas was also on top form, playing balls forward, and there was a real energy about him. The whole team just looked a different side to what we have seen all season, they looked rejuvenated and motivated. I don’t think a top four finish is beyond them and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went on a big winning streak now.

Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Barclays Premier League - Selhurst Park

“City only start to play when they are in a desperate situation”

I mentioned Pellegrini earlier with regards to the Guardiola situation, but just to elaborate on that point, I think fans will be loyal to him after what he has achieved at City. Anyway, it won’t just be City linked with Guardiola, as the same will apply to Manchester United and Chelsea. The pressure Pellegrini might be feeling should spur the players on even more, it would if it were me. With City, there’s two main problems right now. The first, which I mentioned on Match of the Day, is that their form at the back without Vincent Kompany is very worrying. Secondly, they only seem to really start to play when they are in a desperate situation. They could be 1-0 down before they get going and they won’t be able to get out that situation all of the time.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Barclays Premier League - Etihad Stadium

There will be times when it won’t be possible to get back into the game, no matter how much they turn it on, whether its 15 or 20 minutes left. They got away with it on Saturday when they started playing in the last 15 minutes and got two goals and that was a great win for them but they can’t afford to do that too many times in the season.

The big problem for Newcastle is they don’t take there chances

Newcastle deserved to beat Arsenal but I’m still not feeling positive. The performance was pleasing, but obviously the result wasn’t and they need to do some shopping. You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that they need to sign some players in the window. I think certainly they played well at Arsenal and they had chances to score goals but it’s a recurring theme. They didn’t play so well against Everton or West Brom but they still had chances to win the game or to get themselves back into the game.

Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Barclays Premier League - St James' Park

The big problem for Newcastle is that they don’t take their chances and they need someone who can do that and put the ball in the back of the net. Having said that, it’s difficult to find that someone, that’s why strikers get paid the most money, they have the toughest job. Newcastle need to go out and buy a centre forward who can score goals. If they don’t do that, they will remain in trouble.

If Spurs keep Harry Kane fit, they can win the league”

Tottenham have become very difficult to beat, they’ve got the best defensive record, and have a very good spine. Can they challenge for the title? In any other season I would have said no, but the way this season has gone for them, I will say yes they can challenge for the title. Harry Kane’s fitness is vital.

Britain Soccer Premier League

As you know, I’m a huge fan of his and if they keep him fit, then yes they can win.

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Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer played his entire career at the top level of English football, winning the Premier League title with Blackburn in 1994-95. The following summer he signed for his hometown club, Newcastle United, for a then world record £15 million fee.

He ended his playing career with a record 260 Premier League goals, which still stands today. He also won 63 caps for England, including 34 as captain, and among his 30 international goals were five scored at Euro 96, a total that won him the Golden Boot at that tournament.

Now the chief pundit on Match Of The Day, Alan was one of the first two players inducted into the Premier League Hall Of Fame this year.