Another guest article now and again we are treated to some content from contributor Anthony Kendrick – Anthony has kicked off his ‘Big Interview’ series for the season and is joined by Fresh Arsenal owner Oli Price-Bates. The first show previewed the Premier League, with a particular focus on Arsenal and the top sides.
Firstly, I asked whether Unai Emery was the right man. Should Arsenal have taken more of a risk and took on a young manager such as Mikel Arteta or Patrick Vieira?
‘It sort of came out of nowhere, and was very surprising. But looking at it now with Gazidis joining Milan, it seems that he wants to set up a safe and assured plan that isn’t too high risk. Emery is a safe choice, although he is coming into a new environment in the Premier League. It’s unknown, but exciting as a fan. We’ve been very predictable for the last five to ten years., It’s refreshing to see what he will bring, and it seems it was his interview that got him the job. It will be exciting to see how the young players develop under Emery.
Lucas Torreira, Sokratis and Stephen Lichtsteiner are amongst the incoming players, with a total of around £60m spent. What are your thoughts on the players coming in?
‘On reflection the entire transfer window has been okay and we have brought some decent players. We don’t have a big transfer budget available and we haven’t competed for the biggest players. We won’t even compete with Liverpool with what they’re spending now.
Emery has seen the lack of defensive ability, Lichtsteiner will play more than people think and is a great signing on a free. I’m not convinced by Sokratis, he needs to be partnered with the right player and I’m not sure Mustafi is it. I’d like to see another top centre back arrive, central defense is still a concern. I’d have liked someone who knows the Premier League, not necessarily a big money signing, Jonny Evans for a couple of million.
Lucas Torreira is a fantastic little player and provides us with better balance in midfield. He’s a small player but Kante has shown you can be small and benefit the team as a whole.’
Was it the correct decision to offload Jack Wilshere?
‘It’s a decision that I’m thankful I didn’t have to make, with the emotional ties. When fit, he’s a fantastic player, great to watch although perhaps he hasn’t got enough goals to get to level of say, a Gerrard or a Lampard. It was the right time to let him go given his contract was expiring, Wenger left. we’ve been nursing him for too long and we can’t play him regularly. He’s too far down the pecking order and I want to see him playing football, so I think it’s the best move.’
Looking at some of the others in the top six, how do you rate their chances?
‘I don’t see Tottenham getting the top four due to a lack of depth in their squad. [Potential signing] Jack Grealish is a good player but I can’t see him taking them to next level. I don’t particularly like Mourinho and if they don’t make any transfers in the last week they will struggle. Mourinho has made the comments on Liverpool as he is worried. The season hasn’t even started and he has the press on his back. Liverpool have spent a lot of money on Alisson but they needed to strengthen their goalkeeper, but you still wonder if they will be consistent enough to win the league. Manchester City have incredible depth and win even in tough times. I think Liverpool will trip up one too many times, so Manchester City would be my pick. But I hope it’s closer this season.’
Outside of the big six sides, who do you think will get the Europa League? And do you think anyone can even break into the top six?
‘Everton are going to be interesting under Marco Silva, I think he’s a good manager. He knows Richarlison very well from Watford, and when he was there he performed brilliantly. He’s only 21 years old and if he performs well then people will say he’s a good investment. If anyone, they’ll push it. There’s talk about Wolves and Fulham but I think they’ll fall short. Burnley haven’t signed anyone and with their Europa League commitments, I think they’ll struggle and their spot will be taken by another team.’
And finally, what do you consider a successful season for Arsenal?
‘I always think the Premier League should take priority and we should be trying to be competitive over 38 games. There’s reasonably low expectations, it’s not as if we want to win the league. I think we’ve got to target top four. it’s hard to set targets as we should be trying to win every game apart from the top three or four away from home where sometimes you would take a point.’
Thank you to Oli Price-Bates for his time on coming on the show. You can check out the interview in full on V2 Sport, which is available on Soundcloud, iTunes and various other platforms.