Ray Parlour opinions as he gives his special verdict on Arsenal and this seasons happenings

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Ray Parlour makes his view on different topics regarding Arsenal and their current form, interesting thoughts from the former Arsenal legend, playing 339 league games over a period of twelve seasons from 1992 to 2004.

What has Mikel Arteta done specifically to ensure the level of consistency at Arsenal?
What I like about Mikel Arteta’s team is that they start games so well. In the first 15 minutes they come out of the traps and are right at it.

I always got told as a youth team player, ‘always make sure you win that first tackle’ because that puts the team on the front foot and Mikel Arteta has done that.

Even in the second half, Arsenal are really quick whereas a lot of teams start slowly to try and ease themselves into the game.

I’m lucky enough to go on Arsenal’s pre-season tours and I notice that everyone is together, after the games they all had a couple of beers together and I was in the middle of them all and could sense that there’s a really good team spirit.

Arsenal have a lot of players now who have been there and done it in the Premier League, as well as a good, young squad who love playing football. It’s a great recipe for success.

Can Martin Odegaard become as good as Kevin de Bruyne?
His technical ability is very, very good and he’s been excellent. Things didn’t quite work out for him at Real Madrid but he feels at home now with Arsenal, he’s enjoying it every week but De Bruyne is on a different level.

Odegaard has a lot of work to do [to reach the level of De Bruyne] but he’s still a young lad, he has a great attitude and I’ve met him loads of times – he’s a great lad.

The first thing he said to me was ‘what was it like playing in the invincibles team?’ so he wants to know about other people’s careers and I’m so pleased for him now.

He’s got a lot of work to do to be as good as De Bruyne, but he’s certainly going the right way about it.

If Emi Martinez was still at Arsenal, do you think he’d be the number one ahead of Aaron Ramsdale?
If Emi Martinez was still an Arsenal player, Aaron Ramsdale would still be the number one goalkeeper. Martinez leaving Arsenal was a great deal for all parties, it was definitely time to move on, the money that Arsenal received for him was brilliant and fair play to him, he’s doing really well with Aston Villa and has just won the World Cup which is an amazing achievement.

Ramsdale has proved everyone wrong. I speak to David Seaman and he says that Aaron is really good for the squad and the dressing room. He’s been a great signing.

Do you think any current Arsenal player would get into the invincibles team?
You have to look at Bukayo Saka, surely. Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka have been very good but I played with players like Gilberto Silva who was very underrated. You can’t argue with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp up front. There won’t be many players getting in our team but I think Saka would be the one to do that – he’s been brilliant this year.

It’d be very competitive if the current Arsenal team was pushing the teams that I played in.

How do you see the NLD going?
Form goes out of the window in the North London Derby. Tottenham are struggling right now but if they get a result in the derby then that could turn their season around. It’s a game that’s more for the fans. In my era it wasn’t the hardest game of our season, that always came against Manchester United.

The North London derby is all about the bragging rights for the fans, being able to go into work on a Monday with the win.

If Arsenal continue the great form that they’ve shown of late then of course they’ll go into the game as slight favourites. I think it’ll end in a 1-1 draw.

I think Antonio Conte is still the right man to lead Tottenham forward.

If there was one player that you could’ve played with from this current Arsenal team, who would it be?
I really like Martin Odegaard. He’s got a lot in his locker. It would’ve been perfect for me to win the ball back, playing it to Odegaard and then let him look at options going forward. I like his energy, he’s always trying his best and he’s a great lad.

Do you think Michael Carrick can mount a playoff push with Middlesbrough?
Absolutely Michael can finish in the playoffs with Middlesbrough. They are flying. Michael is a great lad and has certainly turned things around in the North East. Steve Gibson has always supported his managers and if they can bring in a few more players in January then I think they have a great chance of finishing in the top six. It’d be great to see Middlesbrough back in the Premier League.

How much has working under Sir Alex helped Michael Carrick with his success so far?
Sir Alex Ferguson is certainly the best manager in Premier League history so working under him will have definitely helped Michael Carrick but you have to have your own personality as well and you have to keep everyone together and involved.

Coaching is very important as a manager, but man-management is the most important thing because you have to get everyone working towards the same direction.

I think everyone looks up to Michael Carrick because of the career he’s had and at the moment it’s going very well for him. Hopefully, it continues and Middlesbrough can get promoted.

If you could have a cobra bomb with a former teammate and a current Arsenal player, who would they be?
The best teammate I ever had a beer with was Steve Bould. He was a great character and always great fun so I’ll pick him.

In the current team now, I don’t think he’s ever had a beer but I’d love one with Bukayo Saka – he always has a smile on his face.

Gabriel Jesus, which I noticed on tour, loves a couple of beers and so he’s another guy that I’d love to go out with.

You also host ‘Pub Talk’ with Alan Brazil – who would be your dream guest to interview next with that?
We’re going to try and get him on in the next series, he’s a big Arsenal fan, so I’d love to speak to Frankie Dettori. I know Frankie very well and he’s had an unbelievable life and a rollercoaster career as a jockey.

We’ve had Noel Gallagher on already and so we’d also love to get Liam on too at some point.

The show has been great so far so hopefully, that can continue. Everyone loves Alan Brazil and it’s great to work with him.

You’ve tried the Cobra bomb and now the Champagne bomb – what’s next in the line of collaborations?
The Champagne bomb was just for Christmas really and I tell you what, it was pretty good. I was quite surprised how nice it was, I thought it’d be too bubbly for me but it ended up tasting very nice.

I remember doing the alphabet bomb which was good fun so I might throw it out to my followers next time to see what drink they want me to do next.

I love a curry too but my order depends on how many I have per week. I try and have at least one a week and I’ll eat anything. The hottest curry I’d probably eat is a Madras.

The first ever curry I had was with the late Steve Rowley [former Arsenal Scout], he took me and we had a Tikka Massala – it was unbelievable.






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