Premier League

Parker predicts: United won't finish in top four; Spurs can break two-horse race

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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ByPaul Parker
06/08/2019 at 11:36 | Updated 06/08/2019 at 11:50

Paul Parker returns to look ahead to the new Premeir League season, with his take on the battle at the top, the race for the Champions League and the quest to break into the top six.

Can Arsenal or Manchester United break back into the top four?

No. Arsenal have done nothing to address their problem of conceding the worst goals you're ever likely to see from a team playing in the Premier League. Defensively, they're a relegation team.


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In attack, they've got a side who should be qualifying for the Champions League, but when you look at creativity through the middle, they've got a problem there because Mesut Ozil picks and chooses his games. You just don't know what you're going to get. He's quite laboured when you compare him to other creative players.

Mesut Ozil has flattered to deceive throughout his Arsenal career

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If Ozil's going to continue to pick and choose, then there's going to be players in his team who are going to pick and choose who's going to punch him first!

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under a lot of pressure. He needs a good start and he needs his team to show consistency. People are questioning how that team fell apart after such a good start.

They capitulated - their performance at Everton [a 4-0 defeat in April] was like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand, it was awful. So Ole is under immense pressure.

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United have addressed a situation that the fans have been screaming for: They've been saying that their centre-halves are rubbish, which was implanted in people's heads by Jose Mourinho.

The best way to shut the fans up is to go and spend £80m on a defender who everyone knows is not worth that money.

The hope is that Harry Maguire can have the same impact that Virgil van Dijk has had at Liverpool, but you rarely get two bangs out of a stick of dynamite. I really don't see how Maguire is going to come out and play in the same vein as Van Dijk. They're hoping that he can make the defence better, but there's a massive amount of pressure on him.

Parker is not convinced Maguire is capable of having Virgil van Dijk's impact

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United still have problems elsewhere, in midfield where there's a lack of creativity. There's been talk of Christian Eriksen coming in there, and then up front, Romelu Lukaku wasn't the ideal front man that United need.

If you take Lukaku's goals away, there wasn't enough substance. They need another centre forward as at the moment they've not got anywhere near enough, they can't rely on what they've got unless someone hits the ground running and keeps at that pace throughout the nine months of the season.

Will it be a two-horse title race?

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The majority will say it will be a two-horse title race, but if there's going to be any team to break into that you've got to say it'll be Spurs.

They're the only ones who are capable of being involved. Some people might argue that their squad's quite small, but what got them through last season was continuity. On the negative side, there were a few injuries, and when it mattered in certain games, they didn't produce.

They went to Anfield and had they taken three points when they had the opportunity, it could've been the turning point. Against Liverpool in the Champions Leauge as well, they failed to produce when it mattered.

Have they got enough about them when it really matters to go and win those games? They haven't done it over the last few years.

There's many teams down the years who have been in their situation and you only get through it with experience. Maybe this will be the year when Spurs win the games that really matter.

Will Lampard be given time at Chelsea?

Frank Lampard has the challenge of finding Eden Hazard's replacement

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He's still got to give Chelsea Champions League football. Just being Frank Lampard doesn't guarantee you anything, as much as some people seem to think it will give him time. It gives him a better chance than a new face like [Maurizio] Sarri.

If he loses two or three games, I don't think the fans are going to be cursing him as quickly as they did Sarri. He still wants a lot for his club, so he'll still believe that despite losing Eden Hazard, Chelsea should still get Champions League football, and that's what fans will expect.

For all the talk that Frank's going to bring through young players, he's still got senior players that make up a very good squad.

Hazard going could be one of those things where players actually step out and show a bit more than they did before.

With Hazard there, a superstar capable of winning games on his own, some players took the easy route. Some players could shake the dust off themselves and produce a little bit more than they did before. It might make Chelsea more of a team than just a team with a very, very good individual.

Will this finally be the year for Phil Foden?

Phil Foden will be expected to play more regularly for Manchester City this term

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Phil wants to stay around the club, and he's a local boy. I would say that given his age and with David Silva leaving at the end of the season, I think he has to stick in there, and I feel he'll get more game time.

It has to be that he will be handed more game time, but I feel the early part of the season will be a telling point.

If he hasn't had more time on the pitch in the opening half a dozen games than he did in previous seasons, that's when everyone will start to question it.

But if City are winning games of football, and winning well, he's no different to someone who's 27. You have to wait for that opportunity, and you don't change a winning team. As much as you might be hoping that someone gets injured so you get an opportunity, he wouldn't be in a position to shout and scream about why he's not playing if the team is winning.

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Parker's quick hits

Outside tip for Premier League top goalscorer: Jamie Vardy

Most successful promoted team: Aston Villa

Team to break into the top six: Everton

Teams to be relegated: Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield United

Player to break into England Euro 2020 squad: Jack Grealish

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