Arsenal have dropped four out of a possible six points in their last two league games. What does that mean for their title chances?
Arsenal dropping points is very damaging especially when you're fighting against Man City. We all know what Manchester City are capable of. They've been getting very good results and it’s going to be difficult for Arsenal. It is still in their hands, they just have to go to the Etihad and beat City - which is easier said than done.
With Saliba out of the squad, it has really exposed Arsenal. We have been conceding silly goals and dropping leads. This is not the sign of champions - especially when you are winning 2-0 like they were against West Ham last week. They have to go and beat Southampton tomorrow and go to the Etihad and beat City. They need all six points to have a chance of winning the league.
Are Arsenal cracking under the pressure?
I wouldn't say they're cracking under the pressure because they've been playing well. Mistakes were just made over the weekend. Thomas Partey was a bit sloppy in the midfield and got dispossessed. Gabriel also conceded a penalty, and if Saka scored that penalty it would have been 3-1.
It's just fine margins and being able to take the opportunity and Arsenal are not doing that. Up until the Liverpool game. They've been playing really, really well. So, I wouldn't say they're cracking under pressure but they need to be a bit more focused and give it their all because there are only seven or eight games left.
What is your prediction for the Southampton game? Could it be a potential slip-up?
I don’t see Arsenal losing to Southampton. They are playing at home and Southampton are currently the worst in the league in terms of form. I can’t see Arsenal slipping, they need three points, we can all agree that the title is gone if they don’t win because you can’t see Man City losing games, especially with the teams that they have to face.
Apart from Chelsea and Brentford, there are no tough games for them. Man City are always ready to engage and Arsenal need to start winning games really fast.
What are your predictions for the Manchester City vs Arsenal game next week? Does the winner of that game win the league?
Whoever wins this game goes on to win the league. If Manchester City win, it is an 85% chance that they will go on and win the league. Unlike City, Arsenal have really difficult fixtures to play in terms of Newcastle, Brighton and even Wolves.
Arsenal have to beat Manchester City to even have a chance of winning the Premier League. In football funny things can happen. An own goal, penalty or bad mistake can put Arsenal in the lead. I believe Arsenal have to beat Man City to have any chance of winning the league.
Where is that game won and lost?
Arsenal can beat City by defending well as Man City’s attack is just ridiculous. The amount of players that they have going forward demands that Arsenal defend really well and they haven't been doing that lately.
They're going have to defend most of the time because no team is going to dominate Man City at the Etihad. Arsenal need to be sharp defensively and Aaron Ramsdale needs to have a very good game.
Nathan Ake could be out of the game as he injured his hamstring in the Bayern Munich tie in the Champions league. Does this open an avenue of dominance for Bukayo Saka?
The fact that Aymeric Laporte can replace Nathan Ake shows Man City’s depth and quality with their squad. Laporte is also a very good and fast defender. Even if they are missing two or three of their biggest players, they still have quality within the squad. Ake has played really well this season and will be a big miss if he doesn’t play next week Wednesday.
As for Saka, I think on his day he can get the better of anyone.
You were managed by Arsene Wenger. If Arsene Wenger was in Arteta’s position today, would he take Arsenal to the Premier League title?
I wouldn’t say that Arsene Wenger will take Arsenal to the Premier League title easily, but what he does have over Arteta is experience. He had been in these types of title races for so many years of career. He would know what to do, what players should play and what changes to make. You can’t buy that experience.
For me, Arteta has been the best manager of the Premier League this season. The way he has been able to take this current squad and compete with City is crazy to see. He has done really well. However, in recent games, some of the changes he has made have affected the team slightly.
For example, taking off Jesus when Arsenal were away to Liverpool and West Ham really did affect the team. I thought Jesus was playing well and could have further helped the team. Though he is the manager of Arsenal football club and knows a lot more about football than I do! From an outside perspective I would have loved for Jesus to finish these games.
Can Arsenal win the league without Saliba? Has he established himself as one of the best defenders in the league?
Of course Arsenal can win the league without William Saliba. He has had a stellar season for Arsenal as of late and has impressed me. I didn’t expect it. It just shows it’s not difficult to play for Arsenal as a centre back. Hopefully he can improve from this season and sign a longer term contract.
The Arsenal team you were a part of were at times accused of lacking the mental strength to maintain a title challenge? Was that fair?
The criticisms of the Arsenal team I played in were fair. It depends on how many times a team is in that title race. If you were there four or five times and then dropped off, it does say a lot about your mentality. The team and players that we had, we should have won at least one title. But let’s not forget the competition that made it difficult for us.
Manchester United at the time had a very good manager and team, as well as Roman Abramovich coming to the fold for Chelsea and changed everything for them. At the time Arsenal didn’t spend money on players as they do now.
They would rather cultivate young players and turn them into superstars. These things made it harder than it should have been, but the criticisms are fair.
Arsenal have previously been linked with AC Milan striker Rafael Leao, who once revealed his admiration for the Gunners. After a brilliant Champions League performance, is that someone they should go for?
Rafael Leao is what Arsenal need. They need as many talented players as they can possibly get. Then again, Chelsea adopted the same philosophy and look what happened to them! Sometimes you don’t need five or six new players to enhance your squad, maybe you just need two or three good ones.
I think that’s what Arsenal may need as they head into the Champions League next season. We struggled to compete in Europe because our squad was so thin, and they didn’t want to risk any injuries. I do feel that Arsenal could have won the Europa League if they played their best team, but they didn’t and it’s gone now. Hopefully they can learn from that for next season.
Reports suggest Leao’s teammate, Brahim Diaz, is another name on Arteta’s wishlist. But is another playmaker what they need?
Brahim Diaz isn’t the right move for Arsenal to make. Just look at Emile Smith Rowe, he is not even getting a chance at the first team - which is disappointing because I like Smith Rowe a lot, he is a fantastic player. We are even out of all the competitions right now so signing a player like this wouldn’t make sense as Arsenal have a lot of players that can play in that role - such as Fabio Viera for example.
We should invest more in our defence, particularly in the left back position. Oleksandr Zinchenko is a good player, but his defending can sometimes be a bit questionable, especially against the top teams. He needs another defender to compete with. I also hear that Kieran Tierney is leaving the squad as well, which will be sad to see him go. We will need a strong left back to compete against top teams like Liverpool and Manchester City.
I would like to see Federico Di Marco from Inter Milan at Arsenal, he is a top player. It goes back to what I was saying because even in the Liverpool game, we saw Zinchenko move to centre back and Gabriel play on the left because Zinchenko couldn’t handle Mo Salah’s pace. One bad game doesn’t make a bad player though.
Louis Saha recently suggested Premier League clubs should consider a return for Sadio Mane. Would that make sense for Arsenal?
Sadio Mane would be a great signing for Arsenal, especially with the young players that we have, he will be able to play on the wings or down the middle.
We have players like Trossard, Martinelli and Saka and if we had Mane in the mix to get us through tough competitions, we would be powerful. I can imagine Sadio Mane in an Arsenal shirt for sure.
What did you think of the punch-up between Mane and Leroy Sane? Is that a normal part of football?
Bust ups happen in football all the time. I remember at Arsenal two players got into one behind closed doors. You just have to brush it off and move on. In any relationship whether it is marriage, or friendship you will have those arguments with each other and Leroy Sane and Sadio Mane aren’t any different.
You would think that because of their similar names (Sane and Mane) they would get along, but unfortunately they are not! I’m hearing that Mane apologised and they have moved on, I think that is all that matters.
Unfortunately, Bukayo Saka was subjected to racial abuse after the West Ham game over the weekend. What do you think needs to be done to tackle racism in the game?
In terms of racism, what needs to be done will never be done because the people that need to take the action are not being abused, so they can never feel your pain. I'm not saying all white people are racist. Of course not. Though, if a white person is being abused and they come up to me and I've never been abused, I will never I will never understand their pain because I've never been in that situation.
Sometimes you just have to ignore it and focus on your football because we have been talking about this for so long and we haven’t done anything. We come together to take pictures and videos and say Kick Racism out of football, but the actions that need to be implemented are not being done. So like I said, you just have to focus on yourself, do your job and just go home to your family and just leave the rest to God.
No individual can do anything about these things. It needs to be done by the right people. If they're not ready to do it. There's nothing that anybody can do.
How did you deal with racism as a player and what advice would you give to Saka?
To be fair, I did have a racist incident in Russia when I was playing there. My teammates had to hold me back because I wanted to fight the fan. The funny thing about racism in football is that the fans that are giving the abuse have black players in their team and then celebrate when the black player scores.
It just tells you that, it just comes from people that are not educated. They don't even understand why they are doing it. They do it because they want to and they don't understand the implications of what they are saying.
I feel like you should just let them do whatever they have to do and focus on your job. Make your money and go and spend time with your family. Abuse - not just racial happens all the time but as footballers, we choose to ignore it because we have better lives than some of these people who choose to be racist.
William Gallas has recently said that Arsenal should make the swoop for Brighton midfield duo Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister? Do you agree?
Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister are rare and top-class players. They will be an upgrade from Elneny and Jorginho for sure. They are both incredible football players and the quality that they have is of a different league. They are a big reason as to why Brighton is where they are today.
It is almost a testament to the Brighton recruitment staff as they continuously find good players. Brighton are looking in the right places and Arsenal are not. I would love to have as many good players as possible, because I feel like it will help and improve the team. We can challenge for titles because at the end of the day, we are playing football, playing for titles, both for the club and the fans.
Arsenal’s players have been under fire for their lack of interaction with their mascot after signing her T-shirt. What are your thoughts on this, and is the backlash fair?
I do not think that it is fair that the Arsenal players are receiving backlash for their supposed lack of interaction with the club’s mascot. Most of these players have families, a wife and kids, so they definitely do care about people.
The video is edited in such a way that you can’t see if they are interacting with her, I’m sure some of them did! Some of them are just focussed on the game and don’t do it on purpose. I don't think it's a fair judgement on these plays and their character. Though, they just have to be aware that there's cameras on them all the time and there's people waiting for them to fall at some point so they can write about you.
Declan Rice continues to be linked with Arsenal, but should they go for Jude Bellingham instead now Liverpool are out of the race?
If Arsenal have the money to buy Jude Bellingham, then why not? Bellingham's price tag is definitely too much for Arsenal to pay. I don’t see Arsenal spending anything over 100 million pounds for any player. He will be a very good addition though. I can imagine Bellingham and Partey playing alongside each other, but it's a long shot.
I don't think he's going to come to us, he will probably go to Madrid or Manchester City. You have to have the financial backing to pull off these kinds of deals.
It is reported that Todd Boehly had addressed the players in the dressing room after the defeat to Brighton and called their form ‘’embarrassing”.’ Arsene Wenger is among critics, so what did you think about it?
I think that the chairman shouldn’t get involved in this stuff. I do understand why he's angry because they've invested a lot of money into the football club and the pressure can sometimes get to these people. Let's not forget, the Chelsea owner is not really a football person. He doesn't really understand football the way that we understand football.
So, it's just frustration and he has the right to share his frustration of course because I know he's put a lot of money into the club. I think sometimes this kind of dialogue needs to be happening between the owners and also the players. As long as it's done in a respectful way. I don't see anything wrong with it.
How would you have reacted if an owner had come into your dressing room after a game?
I would have had a normal reaction because he has the right as the owner of the club to express his feelings if things aren't going well. At the end of the day, he is the one under pressure.
He's the one that has to put his money into the club. He's the one that actually pays the place, and he has the right to express his feelings as I said before, as long as it's done in a very respectful way. I don't think there's anything wrong.
Thiago Silva criticised Boehly in an interview after the game, saying the club needed to ‘stop and put a strategy in place’ after signing so many players. What did you think of his comments?
I think it is very strange for Thiago Silva to openly criticise Boehly publicly for bringing in so many players. I think he's right because sometimes it can bring a bit of confusion.
The more players they have, it brings more of a headache to the manager. Chelsea have very good players who are also successful internationally. Chelsea really need to regroup. The players that they want to sell should sell and the players they want to keep they should keep.
Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher have been of interest for Liverpool in recent weeks, is that what Jurgen Klopp needs for his midfield rebuild?
No, they need more and better players. I mean, if they want to compete with the likes of Man City they need more than Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher.
I think they are very good players, no doubt, but I think you need players in that position that will compete with the likes of Manchester City. Conor Gallagher and Mason Mount are two fantastic players, but I just feel like Liverpool need much more of an upgrade if they want to compete for the Champions League and Premier League.
What have you been up to since retiring in 2019?
I haven’t been up to anything. Just eating, sleeping and spending time with family honestly, every day. That's what I've been doing. They're enjoying life going to the beach, and I'm living in Africa at the moment. There’s certainly no racism here! I mean, it's a bit different to England, of course.
England is much more developed and there's more opportunities there. But over here, I feel like I'm at home. I feel I'm with people that understand me. The taxes are also lower here as well. I’m just enjoying life with the family and taking it easy.
Do you have any plans to return to working in football (agent/coach/scout/manager etc) in the future?
At the moment I am staying away from football at the moment and doing different things.
For me football was painful towards the end of my career. I have really bad memories of football coming towards the end of my career, which I was really struggling to get over so at the moment I just like to do different things like travelling the world. I didn't really have the opportunity to do that.
As footballers, you do travel a lot but you don't really have the time to enjoy yourself, especially when you go to different countries. So that's what I'm doing at the moment and hopefully God will show me the next stage of my career.
Will Arsenal be 'bottling it' if they fail to win the Premier League this season?
Arsenal are definitely not bottlejobs. I think it’s just crazy that people are actually talking about this! At the start of the season everyone was saying that Arsenal weren’t even going to finish in the Champions League spots. Why all of a sudden is everyone's talking about Arsenal bottling the Premier League when we weren’t meant to win it in the first place?
It's been an incredible season. If they win the league or not. It’s been incredible because the boys have done a fantastic job. Hopefully they can win the league, but if they don't, it’s ok because we weren’t meant to compete with City in the first place. Now the club can see the potential and Arteta can have better backing to bring better players into the club, for them to compete next season.
On James Shea
James Shea was very quiet and hard working. At the time, there were questions about his height and worries about whether he was going to be tall enough to be a keeper. I don't know how his career went in the end but he was a decent keeper.
On Craig Eastmond
Craig Eastmond, was very technical. He could play right-back or be in the midfield. He was very intelligent, very funny and always had a smile on his face. He was definitely one of the players that you needed in a team because he wasn't the biggest but he could fight. I know he's been playing for so many years.
The last time I was on twitter I saw he made the record amount of appearances for his club. It tells you the kind of player he is and I'm very dedicated and never injured and he's done really well for his career so far.
On Thomas Cruise
Thomas was another shy and quiet one. Very technical, He wasn't vocal but he was a very good player. He was probably one of the guys that you knew was going to the top because he was very technical and very smart. However, football never goes to plan. I don't know what he's doing now.
He was a very, very good player. Sometimes I'll talk to Tom on Instagram every once in a while, and he's doing really well but I don't know if he is playing football right now. Tom was a very, very decent player.
On Kyle Bartley
We used to call Kyle Bartley ‘’Bambi on Ice’’ because he used to run like Bambi! Kyle Bartley improved a lot at the time when he moved over from Bolton. I remember when he first came he wasn’t the best and struggled to head the ball. I remember Neil Banfield, worked with him and pushed him a lot.
I remember that very, very well. Steve Bould also worked with him a lot after the training sessions. He really improved and I think Kyle owes a lot to the Arsenal coaching staff at the time because they've really helped him to improve a lot before when he came, technically he wasn't the best he had.
He had a high composure on the ball but sometimes he did make one or two mistakes, but they were all rectified. He turned out to be a really good defender for us.
On Luke Ayling
Luke Ayling probably surprised everyone my age group. He was very slow. He wasn't the tallest or fastest but he was very, very technical. He's really worked on his football and also his pace is the reason why he's the captain of Leeds at the moment and this really surprised me.
He actually messaged me on Instagram and I was talking to him the other day. God bless Luke. He has a fantastic family. His mum and dad are really supportive. They have really supported him since the time that we were kids. He deserves everything as he worked hard to get to where he is.
The Dench man. Funny, crazy and somebody his teammates will want to go to war with. He is always ready to give his all. He wasn’t the best player but he was a decent player. He had a lot of heart.
On Henri Lansbury
Henri Lansbury was a crazy guy but in a good way. Very tough and very technical. He could play as a midfielder, right winger and defensive midfielder - as well as a number eight.
He has had a very good career. He was probably one of the players that also everybody was tipping to go to the top because he was very good technically, and he could also fight and had heart.
On Francis Coquelin
Francis Coquelin is the one player that I had wished to play alongside. Francis was somebody that worked at his game. He was a dog on the pitch. He was a fighter. He was a winner. He was just a serial winner, he wanted to win at all costs. He wanted to run more than the competition and wanted to do more.
Sometimes he got to a stage where we're both vying for the same position and you could see in his face that he wanted it. He was a top professional player and that is the reason why he went to play for Arsenal for so many years and also went to Valencia. He definitely deserves to be where he is at the moment.
On Gilles Sunnu
Gilles Sunnu is another technical player. He was very on and off. Sometimes very good or sometimes very lethargic, depending on his mood at the time. He was another good player when he came over from France. We played a friendly against the team that he was playing for before he came to us. He was the best player on the pitch.
That's the reason why Arsenal signed him. He's also had a decent career. I think with Gilles, he maybe could have done better than the career that he had because technically he was very good and very fast as well. He was one of the stand-out players in the squad.
On Jack Wilshere
Jack was one of the most talented players that I have ever come across. He was very loving and had very good parents. I remember when I used to come to training at Hale end, I would have to take the bus all the way from Tottenham because my mum would be working. My mum was a single mother and she didn't have the chance to bring me to train.
Jack’s parents on the other hand would leave work, go and pick Jack up from school, drop them to training, wait for the training to finish and then take him home. He was doing that all the time. He's been doing that for so many years. Andy Wilshere is a man that dedicated his life to Jack. He probably got to where he is because of his dad.
As a footballer. He was just too good. Jack was amazing. He was the player that everyone knew was going to the top, playing for England. He was a lovely person as well.
On Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was very crazy. He should have gone to the top, but in football, certain things happen that you can't really explain. Technically, he was very good. He was one of the most technically gifted players I've ever seen as well. Very strong.
Very powerful and very vocal. He scored such amazing goals for us, especially in the youth. I think he is in India right now. He was the leader of the team at the time.
On Sanchez Watt
Off the pitch, Sanchez was a crazy guy. He will be honest and tell you that off the pitch he wasn’t the most professional and he was ill-disciplined. As a footballer he was very good. He could score goals and get assists.
However, his life off the pitch affected him dearly and as time went on, he was left wanting. He was a very good player that could have done more with his career.
On Steve Bould
I owe my football career to Steve Bould. He was the best out of all the coaches as well as the late Dermot Drummy who helped me. He had some much patience for me and only lost his patience with me when he felt I could do more.
Steve definitely was a good coach and the one thing that we love about Steve is he doesn't care who you are, he will treat you like everybody else. I remember we played against I think Sunderland in a FA Youth Cup game. Jack Wilshere, who was in the first team at the time, came to play with us and had a mare.
Steve absolutely roasted him in the changing room and Jack was crying, I will never forget it. It just tells you the type of manager Steve was. He didn't care who you are, whether your name was Frimpong, Wilshere or Luke Ayling, he treated everybody with the same respect. Probably the best coach I've ever had.
Jack Wilshere has the chance to win the FA Youth Cup as a coach at Arsenal 14 years after winning it as a player - How happy are you to see him doing what he’s doing?
I'm very happy for Jack Wilshere. If you told me he would be a coach or manager, I would never have believed you. Jack is very, very quiet. He likes to smile and laugh at jokes but he doesn't really want to get involved and it's a great opportunity for him. Arsenal is like a family. Wherever you go, whenever you need help, they're always willing to help you.
Jack has got a really big opportunity at Arsenal, and he needs to take the opportunity to learn as much as he can from Mikel Arteta and also the other coaches over there. Jack can definitely be the manager for us in the future because he knows a lot about football and has played under some great managers in the past as well.
So I'm very happy for him. Hopefully, you know, he can become the manager for Arsenal in the future. Maybe my son might also be playing for Arsenal one day so I'm very happy for him and good luck to him.
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