Keane ridicules Ar­se­nal

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Ar­se­nal are not ca­pa­ble of win­ning the Premier League ti­tle this sea­son be­cause they have too many play­ers in­ter­ested in self­ies and six-packs rather than win­ning football matches, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Manch­ester United cap­tain Roy Keane.

Keane, a fire and brim­stone midfielder, won seven Premier League ti­tles as a player and en­joyed a par­tic­u­larly com­pet­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with Ar­se­nal and their sim­i­larly com­bat­ive cap­tain Pa­trick Viera.

The cur­rent Ire­land as­sis­tant man­ager, how­ever, said he saw lit­tle in the cur­rent Gun­ners side to con­vince him that they are poised for a first league ti­tle since their Vieraled ‘In­vin­ci­bles’ team in 2004.

“Ar­se­nal have some re­ally good play­ers – some good char­ac­ters who roll their sleeves up,” Keane told the Mail on Sun­day.

“But they also have one or two play­ers who are more in­ter­ested in self­ies and six-packs, guys who are try­ing to get their pic­tures taken ev­ery day of the week.

“Ev­ery year we hear the same thing about Ar­se­nal be­ing con­tenders. In­stead of fo­cus­ing on the Premier League, it’s all about how their bod­ies look, how their hair is, more so than win­ning football matches.”

Ar­se­nal, un­der man­ager Arsene Wenger, have be­come one of the most daz­zling at­tack­ing sides in Europe but a per­ceived lack of lead­er­ship has un­der­mined their abil­ity to make a sus­tained ti­tle chal­lenge for a num­ber of years.

Back-to-back FA Cup tri­umphs ended their nine-year tro­phy drought but for too long the north Lon­don­ers have not been rel­e­vant dur­ing the in­tense 38-game toil of a Premier League sea­son.

Last sea­son, un­der Jose Mour­inho, Chelsea – built around a strong spine of hard-work­ing, phys­i­cal play­ers — sti­fled their clos­est ri­vals to can­ter to the league ti­tle and Keane said the Stam­ford Bridge side re­mained the bench­mark in the up­com­ing sea­son.

“For me, Chelsea re­main the team to beat,” the 43-year-old added. “Their team is the one with the strong­est spine — John Terry, their goal­keeper (Thibault Cour­tois), Eden Haz­ard – and if they can add (Ever­ton’s Eng­land de­fender) John Stones to their team then they will be even harder to beat.

“The bot­tom line is that if Chelsea’s play­ers show the same hunger and de­sire that they did last year then they’ll win the league. They will only be in trou­ble if they are com­pla­cent.”

Mean­while, the Premier League is un­doubt­edly one of the most ex­cit­ing in world football but as it em­barks on its 24th sea­son on 8 Au­gust, is it also be­com­ing one of the most pre­dictable?

Last term only New­cas­tle United and Ever­ton, both of whom dropped down the ta­ble, moved more than four places ei­ther way, while two of the three pro­moted clubs went straight back down.

Clubs out­side the top six will aim to avoid rel­e­ga­tion which will be more im­por­tant than ever with a lu­cra­tive three-year do­mes­tic tele­vi­sion deal, worth over five bil­lion pounds ($7.77 bil­lion), start­ing in 12 months’ time.

Over­seas TV rights will add half as much again, mak­ing the strug­gle to stay up in­tense.

While the usual sus­pects are ex­pected to con­test the ti­tle, how­ever, none of them have man­aged to win it for two years in a row since Manch­ester United com­pleted a hat-trick in 2009 un­der Alex Fer­gu­son.

Since the Scot re­tired in 2013, the Old Traf­ford club have not been in se­ri­ous con­tention to add to their record 20 cham­pi­onships, fin­ish­ing sev­enth and fourth.

They have spent vast amounts of money in that time, with only mixed suc­cess, and dur­ing the close sea­son Louis van Gaal has con­tin­ued to re­vamp his squad.

Ger­many cap­tain Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger from Bay­ern Mu­nich and Southamp­ton’s French­man Mor­gan Sch­nei­der­lin will im­prove the mid­field op­tions and al­low the Dutch­man to use Wayne Rooney in his best po­si­tion, fur­ther for­ward.

By the end of the sea­son Rooney should have over­taken Bobby Charl­ton’s records as record scorer for Eng­land and United.

He will be more in­ter­ested in whether United have re­gained the ti­tle from Chelsea, who led the ta­ble from the third match of last sea­son and fin­ished eight points clear of the pre­vi­ous sea­son’s cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City.

On the day in May that Jose Mour­inho’s side made sure they could not be caught, tele­vi­sion pun­dit and for­mer United de­fender Gary Neville told view­ers, “the rest are ab­so­lutely miles be­hind this Chelsea team”.

United, City, Ar­se­nal and Liver­pool will all be­lieve they have re­duced the gap af­ter a trans­fer win­dow in which the cham­pi­ons have so far been com­par­a­tively quiet.

Other than bring­ing in As­mir Be­govic from Stoke to re­place Petr Cech as sec­ond-choice goal­keeper, Mour­inho’s only no­table sign­ing has been Colom­bia striker Radamel Fal­cao, who failed to live up to his rep­u­ta­tion at United last sea­son.

He im­pressed Chelsea’s cap­tain John Terry when scor­ing a hat-trick against the Lon­don club for Atletico Madrid in the 2012 Uefa Su­per Cup fi­nal and, like United, they have now taken him on loan from Monaco, while hop­ing for a bet­ter re­turn.

City scored 10 goals more than Chelsea last sea­son and hope to outscore them again af­ter pay­ing a fee that could rise to 49 mil­lion pounds for Eng­land’s Ra­heem Ster­ling.

Their to­tal of 83 goals was 31 more than Liver­pool, which ex­plains why Bren­dan Rodgers made for­wards his pri­or­ity and signed Chris­tian Ben­teke from As­ton Villa, Hof­fen­heim’s Brazil striker Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings from rel­e­gated Burn­ley.

Ar­se­nal’s Arsene Wenger has felt less need to strengthen a squad that re­tained the FA Cup and re­turned to the top three, although ex­pe­ri­enced for­mer Chelsea goal­keeper Petr Cech will doubt­less save them plenty of points.

New­com­ers Wat­ford, Bournemouth and Nor­wich City will in­evitably be tipped as rel­e­ga­tion fod­der but Villa, Sun­der­land and Le­ices­ter City, all heav­ily in­volved in the scrap to avoid the drop last term, can­not ex­pect much more than mere sur­vival.

Fix­tures Aug 8: Man U v Spur, Nor­wich v Crys­tal Palace, Ever­ton v Wat­ford, Le­ices­ter v Sun­der­land,

Bournemouth v As­ton Villa, Chelsea v Swansea.

Aug 9: Ar­se­nal v West Ham, New­cas­tle v Southamp­ton, Stoke v Liver­pool.

Aug 10: West Brom v Man City. — Reuters

Alex Oxlade-cham­ber­lain jumps for joy af­ter scor­ing Ar­se­nal’s only goal against Chelsea on Sun­day.

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