by Lewis Ambrose
Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has praised the current squad, which he believes to be the strongest since the Invincibles.
Parlour was a part of the side that went unbeaten in 2003/04 and also won two doubles under Arsène Wenger in 1998 and 2002. The midfielder had fought his way through the academy and into the first team before even Wenger had arrived at Highbury, first playing a key role back in 1992 and he knows as well as anyone what a good squad looks like.
Arsène Wenger now has quality and depth, displayed by naming 21 players to start at the Emirates Cup over the weekend despite the absence of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sánchez, and will look to use that squad throughout the season.
“It’s definitely the best squad since the Invincibles,” Arsenal hero Parlour said. “They need to steer clear of injuries. Last season, if the injury list was a bit lighter at certain times then they would have been a lot closer.”
It is a bit curious that he says the squad, and not the team, is the strongest since 2003/04. Arsenal have often been labelled as having too small a squad since then but even went into that campaign with a clear strongest eleven and six or seven squad players who combined youth and experience.
“The most important thing in any squad is to have the right team spirit and harmony,” Parlour continued. That squad in 2004 had an incredible togetherness and if Arsenal can replicate that, which they seem to be doing, we will be on to something. “Everyone has to be pulling in the same direction. You can’t have some not getting on with others, a personal feud or something like that.”
“At the moment, it’s the best I’ve seen in terms of team spirit for a long time.
“I think now, winning the two FA Cups, they believe they can go to the next level which, for me, is winning the league. That’s the most important trophy. That shows you how consistent you are throughout the season.”
After those two FA Cup wins Arsène Wenger and his players have certainly sets their sights higher this season. Hopefully they can deliver