Ahead of Monday’s huge clash between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium, former Manchester United defender Paul Parker gives us his thoughts on who will win this early top-four showdown…
The Managers: Arsene Wenger v Brendan Rodgers
Wenger never publicly has a go at his players. I think you can see his frustration some times on the bench because so many things he does in training don’t work out in games and that frustrates him. But he doesn’t come out and start pointing fingers. He keeps it all in the dressing room. You never hear about him coming out and directly blaming people. He talks about things as a team and I think players can deal with that.
Players say they can handle criticism, but I don’t think many of them can. But it’s about how you deal with it and I think Wenger gets his players to deal with it and you can see his players hold him in high regard. That’s one of the reasons he’s been there so long; the people upstairs see that and they’re worried that if they make a snap decision and change it, they could lose that mix.
Some of those players have been there a long time and for someone to come in and take over, as we’ve seen with Manchester United, it doesn’t always work. He’s just got that continuity with the players and the manager is the key. He keeps them all going. We saw Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic struggle after Alex Ferguson left. We saw Patrice Evra struggle. David Moyes just couldn’t get them going, couldn’t get Manchester United going.
As for Brendan Rodgers, expectations are always high at Liverpool and I believe it was the wrong choice to retain his services after last season. I think they should’ve moved on and got someone who was going to add something different. He will always give you a few buzz words, a few sound bytes, but when it comes down to it Liverpool fans will be looking for performances and results. You can keep winning games, but Liverpool fans are no different to United fans or Arsenal fans, they look for performances. As a fan, when you’re paying that much money for a ticket, you’re paying for entertainment, not just a win.
You don’t pay £100 at the Albert Hall just to sit somewhere and hear someone play the cymbals and walk out and say it was great. You’re paying for entertainment and a bit of value. They’ve made a lot of signings again and once again I’m not 100 per cent sold on any of them. There’s still only one player sticking out and that’s Philippe Coutinho. The others haven’t really stepped forward. So for me there are still big question marks.