Shearer Says: “For me, Arsenal have a softness about them”
Coral Ambassador Alan Shearer gives his thoughts on Arsenal’s softness, players being rested and United’s title aspirations…
“ARSENAL STILL HAVE A SOFTNESS ABOUT THEM”
I have not seen anything from Arsenal this season to suggest they have changed in any way as a football club from what we have seen over recent campaigns. I always get criticised by Arsenal fans for writing them off in the title race on the basis of what I have seen in recent seasons. Yet when they have a bad result like they did against Watford, they level exactly the same criticisms of their side, go mad and call for all kinds of changes!
For me, Arsenal have a softness about them. If you took away Chelsea and there wasn’t a nine point gap, I still would not be confident about them winning the league. I know they have won the FA Cup over the last few years but when push comes to shove in the league, they cannot handle it. When I was playing they had tough players in their side, the likes of Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira. Where are those sorts of players in this current Arsenal team? There are no obvious leaders.
Last season Leicester took advantage of the big clubs misfiring. This season they have allowed Chelsea to steal a march.
That said, even though things are not working out as well as they should be on the pitch, I would never say it is time for Arsene Wenger to go. When you look at how he has restructured the football club and how far they have progressed under him, it would be very unfair just to cut him out. Let’s remember he has made them an absolute fortune financially. They’ve finished in the top four every season since he has been there. When you look at some of the players he has brought in too, he has found some absolute gems like Vieira, Petit, Henry and Sanchez. His record at the club is superb and to sack him would be unjust.
“RESTING PLAYERS DID NOT WORK FOR THE TOP TEAMS”
When you look at the all the clubs who rested players in the FA Cup, was it really worth it? Tottenham hardly played any of their first-team regulars against Wycombe. They were very lucky to win that game but then they were poor against Sunderland. Arsenal made wholesale changes against Southampton and although they won that comfortably (against an unrecognisable Southampton line-up) they were hopeless against Watford. Newcastle made nine changes against Oxford where they got beaten and then were really poor at home to QPR.
It is no wonder we are bringing kids through who have a softer mentality now. From a young age they are seeing it and hearing it on TV that a top player can’t play three times a week, so when they get to eighteen they have the mentality that they can’t do it.
We have the best diets, training grounds, pitches and physios today. Everything is so far advanced it is incredible. Surely we should be able to play more football matches? 20 years ago we didn’t have any of the sports science back up and yet we played a lot more with seemingly no more incidence of injury . It just does not make sense to me.
“UNITED MISSED THE CHANCE TO CLOSE GROUND ON TOP FOUR RIVALS”
I have never had Manchester United in the title hunt, but anyone who still thought they were in the race surely changed their mind after they drew 0-0 with Hull. It was a real opportunity for them to make ground on a top four finish as Manchester City were the only side in the top six to win that week.
United are just not good enough. They spent some big money in the summer but they are still a long way short from being title contenders. They don’t score enough goals and they just don’t have that magic touch about them.
The good news for United fans is that they have a cup final to look forward to against Southampton and they are still going well in the FA Cup and the Europa League. I don’t think they have enough to win the European competition so their best chance to qualify for the Champions League looks to be through a top four finish and they have a lot of work to do if they are to achieve that now.