by Lewis Ambrose
Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes that Arsenal have a fairly deep squad and could be ready to compete for the Premier League title.
Parlour played for Arsenal for over a decade after coming through the youth system and was a part of Arsène Wenger’s title winning squads in 1998, 2002 and 2004. His crowning moment in an Arsenal shirt was a goal in the 2002 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, and the former Arsenal man now believes the squad has pretty good depth.
“That’s where pre-season is very important,” said ‘the Romford Pele’ when asked on who will be Arsenal’s first choice defenders in the coming season.
“Gabriel will get an opportunity to play alongside [Laurent] Koscielny if he can show enough in pre-season maybe he can start.
“I think realistically it will be [Per] Mertesacker and Koscielny who will start but what you want is competition for places.
“If (Gabriel) can really put pressure on Mertesacker then it would be fantastic.”
Arsenal have more depth, particularly at the back, than ever before and it may be enough to fuel a title charge. Quality in abundance is crucial and the Gunners seem to have it at last after years of making do with players who weren’t quite good enough.
Parlour didn’t hesitate to answer what Arsenal may need this summer.
“I’d say a central midfielder who’s going to be sitting in front of the back four.”
“Schneiderlin would’ve been very good.
“Whether he looks at Cazorla like he did at Manchester City away last season, can he do that week in week out? Can Wilshere do that job? But they have a very competitive midfield at the moment and that’s very healthy to have,” Parlour said.
Arsène Wenger seems to be willing to try Santi Cazorla in that deep role, and paired him with Aaron Ramsey in the Barclays Asia Trophy Final win against Everton (which I analysed here).
“Arsène Wenger is the manager,” Parlour added.
“He’s the one to decide if they need an extra midfielder, he is the one who trains every day and knows if someone can do the job.”
As fans we can often forget that Wenger does work with the players at close quarters every day; the manager sees a lot more than we do as fans.
Whatever he decides to do in the transfer window this summer Arsenal certainly do have a deep squad already. Gabriel and Calum Chambers can step in at centre-back while the likes of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Francis Coquelin are not guaranteed a starting spot in midfield.
Arsenal and Wenger have a deeper squad than ever going into the new season.