Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has said that the game against Manchester United would be a real test for the club if they are serious about winning the Premier League this season.
Parlour himself played against the Red Devils during his time at Arsenal. He was in action for Arsenal when they thrashed Manchester United in 2002 to do the Premier League and FA Cup double without stars like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, and Robert Pires. He has also witnessed humiliating defeats from the Sir Alex Ferguson-led side.
Since 2004 Arsene Wenger has not touched the Premier League title and he faces a tough one when the team visits Old Trafford this weekend. Parlour spoke to Sky Sports on the strength of the Arsenal team, his top summer signing and on Per Mertesacker’s return to the team.
“I look at Arsenal now and think they’re a lot stronger. People were always waiting for that big centre forward, but the key signings for me were Mustafi and Xhaka. Those two down the spine have been very strong, especially Mustafi who’s come in next to Koscielny at the back. No disrespect to Per Mertesacker, who’s getting that little bit older, but sometimes Arsenal have to sit off with him in the team.
“With Mustafi, you can push up that little bit higher and condense the space in midfield. It’s worked so far, but it’s such a competitive league and this will be a big test. If they’re going to win the title, they have to go to places like Old Trafford and try to get a result,” Parlour said.
Parlour recalled the huge loss to United a year before their 2002 double. Martin Keown and a few Arsenal stars taunted Ruud Van Nistelrooy and the FA fined them. Parlour had to part with £10,000.
He said: “We were out of order, really. There’s loads of things you do in football you regret, but we all got fined by the FA.
“I remember the letters coming in a couple of weeks later and we said to Martin Keown ‘open yours up first, because you started it’. He got fined £20,000, I got done £10,000, Lauren £5,000 and Ashley Cole £5,000 – bit of a nightmare, really.”