Ray Parlour Opinions


Arsenal v Tottenham

Arsenal has now beaten Tottenham twice this season, what did you make of the game?

Well, it's certainly a spring in my step this morning because it's always a big big game. The form does go out the window in North London derbies. From the first whistle, they were on the front foot. They played really well.

Tottenham as a team normally sit back and defends under Conte, but they certainly moved the ball quickly and they thoroughly deserved to win. There are certain games you come away from and say ‘’we've got a little bit lucky today,’’ but I'm sure any spurs fans walking away from that stadium said Arsenal certainly deserved to win that game.


What did you think of Tottenham’s end-of-game reactions at the final game yesterday?

The reactions after the match were absolutely ridiculous. I know people don’t like to lose - that is why when you lose there is always a bit of friction. North London derbies are always quite feisty - I have played in so many! You do get the odd idiot that will go over the top and cross the line.

Getting stick from the fans is normal, but there are people who have crossed the line and that fan certainly did.

With Richarlison, I don't know what he was trying to do. It’s ridiculous. The correct thing to do is shake someone’s hand when you lose. I've lost North London derbies. When you lose you’re not happy, but you don't go around doing what he did. So I think Mikel Arteta had done well to get him away. But you don't really need that in the game. You can lose the game, but don't lose it in that manner and lose your head as well. I think Conte will be disappointed as well.


After his performance yesterday do you think Ramsdale should replace Jordan Pickford as England’s number one ahead of the Euros?

Aaron Ramsdale can only keep doing what he's doing. I think he is a really good lad. I speak with David Seaman quite often and says that Ramsdale goes down to the training ground and he's really grounded. 

The guy's got a lovely family around him. You know, and at the end of the day, it is Gareth Southgate’s  pick. We have all seen that he's been very loyal to lots of players during the World Cup such as  Maguire.  

But all he can do is play as he did. He was excellent and had great saves at vital times of the game, which is so important as a Number one keeper in any squad. You don’t win the league if you do not have a good goalkeeper. I've managed to win the league a few times with the likes of Jens Lehmann, and  David Seaman -  Ramsdale is way up there with the top goalkeepers. So at the moment, he’s certainly pushing toward Pickford for that number one spot, but knowing Gareth, he's never letting him down and I think he will stick with Pickford for now.


Was the North London derby as heated as you can remember? What is the worst incident you have witnessed during your career at Arsenal?

My best North London derby was the one I played in when we won the league in 2004. It was at White Hart lane, and it had some cracking goals.  We had the likes of Viera and Pires. You expect a little bit of a feisty game. This was the game the fans. Back in my era, It wasn't our biggest game. It's a big game now because Tottenham is competing a lot more with Arsenal for the Top 4 spot. Before the beginning of the season, you could argue that Tottenham could be the one who's going to try and compete for the title, not Arsenal.  Their main objective was to get the top 4, but it's gone the other way around now.  

The Derby is where you want things to happen. You're not going over the top but you want to see the passion from the players, especially if you’re a supporter.  I was watching it myself and I'm a supporter now and I want to see tackles going in. Everybody is on the edge of their seats and that's what it's all about.  I always got told as a player that if you can win that first tackle in the midfield you put somebody out of their position and on the backfoot - which is key in a North London derby.

I thought it was a really good game yesterday as Arsenal controlled the possession and the ball, which was good from Arsenal as they took the sting out of the game when they had to. There was a period in the second half when Kulusevski had a few chances but they were quelled. It was great for Arsenal to come away with a clean sheet.


Which Arsenal player today- would you have loved to have played with during your time with Arsenal?

There are so many good players to choose from. You could argue Saka on the right side has been brilliant, but one player that has really stepped up who is probably  a bargain how much they bought him for is Odegaard, He scored a goal yesterday. He's always on the ball, always on the half-turn, and is always chasing. He's been the skipper now for the club as well.  I really liked the way he plays with a smile on his face. 

He really enjoys his football, he is never injured always. 35 million pounds now is an absolute steal. What's it worth now? So if I was a ball-winning player in midfield, I would always look out to see Odegaard make something happen. So I think he's been a joy to watch and he's a really good lad as well. I've met him on quite a few occasions and he's a really down-to-earth and a good guy. It will be Odegaard for me.


Bukayo Saka is in tremendous form as of late - do you see him at Arsenal long term, or is there another club in his future?

I'm hoping that Bukayo Saka does stay at Arsenal. The most important thing for Arsenal is trying to sign young players like Emile Smith Rowe, Martinelli, and Saliba. Currently, all the young players in Arsenal are coming to the end of their contracts and it is key to sign them because they are the future of Arsenal.

I’m hoping that Bukayo Saka signs as he is such an important player and very good on the ball. He has a great work rate as well and can play in any position that you put him in. He is quite versatile. 

I'm hoping that because he's come through the ranks, he knows the importance of playing for Arsenal Football Club and he's got plenty of time to move on. He's a young man. So he might look at it and say that I like the way Arsenal play at the moment. I think the board will back the manager.

I think we could certainly challenge for trophies in the next three or four years. He has to keep the focus and see Arteta’s vision for himself. He has to want to try and compete against the likes of Man City, Liverpool, and Manchester United every season. If he does stay for another three or four years then he'd only be 25. The world is at his feet and every club in the world will be interested in him.


In your opinion is Ben White the best RB in the league?

Ben White didn’t originally want to play right back but you do it for your teammates and it's been brilliant. He's inadequate going forward.  but defensively, he's helped Saliba and Gabriel beside him.  At that time you can play with three at the back and  let the left back go forward a little bit more and shuffle across and so that's why it's adapted so well. But Ben is certainly is up there with the best of them.

Trent is up there as well but Liverpool hasn’t had that much great form recently. I mean Trippier has been excellent for Newcastle. He's been one of the better right backs as well. We've all experienced it. But certainly, he's up there. What I like about Ben is that he's so consistent. He always puts out a 7/10 performance every week and if I'm a manager I that's what I want. I don't want someone getting 9/10 and then getting 4/10  the following weekend. He’d be a brilliant player for Arsenal.


Where would this Arsenal team rank amongst the all-time list if they win the Premier League?

It would be a massive achievement if Arsenal were to win the Premier League, because we know how good Manchester City is. At the start of the season, I would have been happy with fourth place. That was probably the aim to get back into Champions League football, which we've not been in for five or six years now. So that was the aim. 

Arsenal is a team of mixed experiences in quite a young team. Xhaka has been amazing, Partey has  been brilliant in central midfield as well. He's got the experience and the young players around him have  really stepped up so personally, i think this is a great team. 

‘98 was a fantastic team. We had the likes of Petit, Vieira, and Myself. Ian Wright, Nikolas Anelka, and Dennis Bergkamp. We also had the famous back five or six  I like to call them. We had the likes of  Martin Keown, Balding David Seaman - that was a great team. ‘02 was a great team as the Invincibles. But I think this would be a really big achievement if they could do it. People will always say the Invincibles because they went unbeaten all season,  but points-wise, they've got more points than the Invincibles at the moment. So I think they're doing really well, but there's a long way to go.  I'm not going to get carried away. What I'm going to wait for - which I hope doesn't happen is when they lose a game or 2, what happens after that. 

Those are the games where you have to bounce back quickly. We still have to play City twice, then play Newcastle away, so there are still more points to play for. They've got to pick up if they're going to win this title. But when you lose two games in a row, suddenly the point gap closes and other teams pick up points, and then it's all about momentum from the other teams.


It has been 20 years since the Ruud Van Nistelrooy Incident - do you look back fondly on it?

The Ruud Van Nistelrooy incident was what it was. You look back and  sometimes you think ‘’well, i think i was over the top.’’  There are ways to lose games,  Even though we drew  the game in the end - we just think it was a relief to draw the game. Martin gave away the penalty, it obviously wasn't a sending off but the referee made the decision. We were definitely out of order with what we did at the end of the game.

We all got big fines for doing that. If we could get four points out of both games, we usually have a great chance of winning the league. It is a little bit different now because you've got Man City and Liverpool. You only had either Manchester United or Arsenal in my era who could probably win the league. 20 years fly by really quickly.  Looking back, it’s something that should have never happened and it just goes to show how close we were to each other.

It was a crucial moment because, in the end, we went unbeaten that year and became the invincibles. However, I would have bet my house that Ruud Van Nistelrooy would have scored that penalty though.

Manchester United

There was a lot of controversy over the derby against City- should Fernandes’ first goal have stood?

I think the rules are wrong in terms of VAR. Surely, Rashford has got to be interfering with the play. I mean, he's running through the mix for the ball. In the rule book, he hasn’t touched it and therefore the referee has given the goal. 

They've gone by the rules, which you can't argue with. I think they've got to change the rules surely because the defenders don’t know he's offside. The defender’s looking at Rashford now is looking at Fernandez and it was a situation where the goalkeeper is probably watching Rashford but he's not level with the ball.

Suddenly Rashford leaves and it was a very clever play from him.  As an Arsenal fan, i was happy that Manchester City was going to drop points. However, i was at Brighton and Liverpool and was shocked that the goal was allowed.



After all the hype with Shaktar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk - he chose Chelsea. How do you feel about the transfer snub?

I was disappointed with Mykhaylo Mudryk’s decision. I am sure that Arsenal’s scouts were probably looking at him for a long time.  But that comes down to money as usual. Money always plays a big part in any transfer. I think he was offered like 120 or 130,000 a week or so. Suddenly, Chelsea would come in and say 230k a week with a big contract so I could see why he's gone there. Because he's got no allegiance with Arsenal.

It is Chelsea who've offered the big money. It's down to the player in the end whether it was a good choice, we'll have to wait and see what Chelsea do with their manager and with the form they're in at the moment. Obviously, he could have gone straight into that Arsenal team and maybe won a title in his first season.  I'm not the representative or the player’s agent but money talks and that's why he's gone to Chelsea and I wish him good luck. 


Despite the blow- who do you think Arsenal should have their sights set on before the January window closes?

To be honest i think Eddie Nketiah did really well yesterday.  He’s got an opportunity now. People can argue that Arsenal still needs a forward to just give them the insurance I don't know long Jesus is going to be out for which obviously is a big loss when he got injured at the World Cup. I think they have their sights set on Raphinha now. He has struggled in Barcelona but everyone knows what he did for Leeds in the Premier League  so that might be an option. 

January is not the ideal place to buy quality players because a lot of them are under contract and it's very hard to buy the players in January, but they can get someone on loan or they can get a permanent deal. 


Which areas of the club do you think Arsenal should bolster in the transfer window?

The obvious area that needs looking after is the striker position in terms of Jesus’ injury.  I don't know how long he's gonna be and you never know when he does get fit again how long he takes to get back into his form because he's going to miss quite a chunk of football and it's very difficult to come straight back in and do what he was doing.  The position that they probably need to fill is a probably will be central midfielder. I'm always worried that Partey is going to pick up an injury because we saw in recent seasons that he's got injured and been out for quite awhile with his thigh sprains.  He's such an important player for Arsenal in that midfield they're very efficient. He's very good on the ball, he's mobile. So maybe someone in that position because I don’t think we can put Xhaka back there because I think he's shown that he's been aware he is now a little bit further forward. I'll be looking at maybe someone's available in central midfield who can be a ballplayer as much as you can when the ball is back in that in that midfield area.

Tielemans  was mentioned in that midfield area. He is very different to Partey in that respect. I know Partey is very good at winning  the ball back. Very similar to Petit and Gilberto Silva. So it's a bit of a defensive midfielder, but obviously good on the ball as well that can make things happen. 

You know, the shot yesterday was amazing. If that goes in. That’s a goal of the season contender right there. When he struck, it was falling and smashed off the post. 

With Tielemans. He doesn’t have long left in his contract. So Arsenal can put a little cheeky bid in. But at the same time, Leicester has their own problems fighting a relegation battle, and does not want to go down because they lost their best players


Arsenal seems like they need Options at RB- would Aaron Wan Bisakka suffice?

I don’t think Arsenal needs a right-back. They have Tomiyasu, Whose an excellent player. I mean, when he first got into the side, everybody was raving about Tomiyasu. Obviously, he's had his injuries as well. But if he can get him back fit, there are two good right-backs in Ben White and Tomiyasu.  Left backs we have Zinchenko and Tierney. So I think we are alright for fullbacks. I see Wan Bissaka has been given his opportunity again for Manchester United, he's done nothing wrong. But at the moment I don’t think Arsenal will be going down that road.


Do you still believe that Arsenal should sign Ivan Toney as an ideal Jesus replacement?

I still believe in Ivan Toney. I really liked the way he plays. He's always on people's shoulders. We all know he's been brilliant for Brentford this season. This is no disrespecting Brentford because they're doing so well but imagine you have got Odegaard and Saka giving you chances as well we might score a lot more goals than what he has done. 

I don't know much the price would be for Ivan Toney. He's very unlucky not to go to the World Cup. It would be something different for Gareth.  I  thought he would have been if he could start games.


Liverpool FC has been experiencing Terrible form at the moment and a possible new midfield. Would you look at John Mcginn as a possible candidate?

John McGinn is a good player for Aston Villa.  I was at the game in Brighton at the weekend. Brighton were superb, absolutely brilliant when he passed the ball. Liverpool are an aging squad.  For Liverpool's point of view in that midfield area Thiago, Fabinho and  Henderson all played and there is no real energy there. Harvey Elliott came on who's obviously a lot younger and had a bit more energy. 

At the end of the season, I think everyone wants to know where to midfielders are going. Declan rice is one of them. It will give West Ham fans the piece of mind to know whether he is staying or going. 

Finally, Jude Bellingham. We want to know where Bellingham goes. But I'd love to see him in the Premier League and Liverpool surely have to be looking at those sorts of guys as replacements because they're young. They've been brilliant for West Ham and brilliant for Dortmund. We have seen what they've both done in the World Cup. So I think Liverpool will be looking down that road more than John McGinn at the moment.  They're going to cost a lot of money but you know what you are getting. you know you're getting good, quality young players. If you can mix them in with a couple of other experienced players then I think that will really help Liverpool.


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