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Football | Friday, May 17, 2024 2:12 PM (Revised at: Friday, May 17, 2024 2:31 PM)

Arsenal have not bottled the league title, says four-time PL winner

Arsenal have not bottled the league title, says four-time PL winner
Andrew Orchard sports photography / Alamy Stock Photo: Declan Rice of Arsenal

The 2023-24 Premier League title will be decided on the final day as both Manchester City and Arsenal have a chance to take the crown. The reigning champions are in the driving seat but a loss to West Ham or a draw could put Arsenal in control of their destiny.

To discuss Arsenal’s season, as well as the overall Premier League season on a whole, Devang Prasad sat down with four-time Premier League winner Mikael Silvestre who explained why the Gunners’ season won’t be a failure if they don’t win the title.

Not winning the title is not a failure for Arsenal

Arsenal challenged Manchester City fiercely in last season’s Premier League title race and have stepped up their performance even more this season. As we enter the critical final phase of the title race, Silvestre urges the footballing world to acknowledge the hurdles Arsenal faces. Should they stumble again, it’s important to appreciate the quality of their rival, Manchester City, and the strides made under manager Mikel Arteta.

“You have to look at the competition as well. You can’t just look at Arsenal and if they fail to win anything. You have Manchester City and Liverpool in the race.” 

“You had a tough opponent in the Champions League. Reaching the quarter-final was good. It was a close game against Bayern Munich.”

“It is not going to be a failure if Arsenal don’t win the league.”

“It’ll be painful, it is painful but you have to look at the big picture, the opponents and also the progress of the team. Did the team progress, yes! Is it good enough to win the league, we will see. Who knows what will happen!”

Silvestre claims that whatever happens come the end of the season, Arsenal will be here to stay due to the infrastructure that the club have built with Arteta at the helm. 

“It’s a young team, a young manager, so you can expect them to continue. I think financially they are also capable of getting the team stronger.”

“If you look at the squad, the environment, the back office, the people behind the scenes, starting with the manager, the sporting director, there’s no doubt that they will be there next season in the mix for the title and compete for it again.”

Declan Rice can be the next Frank Lampard

The Frenchman reserved special praise for Arsenal’s record signing Declan Rice, citing his improved goal contributions. Silvestre expects that number to grow in the coming seasons and believes that Rice can be like Frank Lampard when it comes to goal contributions from midfield.

“Seven goals is already a good output. It’s only his first season at Arsenal. I would expect this number to grow naturally. He’s a good finisher, whether it’s with his left or right foot. He has a good understanding of his positioning in the box and around the box.”

“Rice can grow into the next Frank Lampard in terms of appearing in the box as a second/third scoring option. He can add that. He has the legs to do it and also has the desire for it. Everybody loves to score. Even the goalkeepers.”

“He’s already a top player. He will reach his peak very soon if he gets more goals. He’s only 25 but already a top player. I don’t see any clear weakness in his game.”

Premier League Awards

When asked about the Player Of The Season, Silvestre picked Rice over Manchester City’s Phil Foden. The former Arsenal defender’s reasoning was Rice’s defensive attributes but he conceded that the two players cannot be compared.

“I would put Declan Rice over Foden. That’s my choice. You can’t compare them because one is defence and the other is attacking. I’m backing the defensive player for once.”

For Young Player Of The Year, the choice was simple as he picked Cole Palmer who’s had a prolific season up front for Chelsea.

“Cole Palmer is well above the others.”

When asked about his former side Manchester United’s Player Of The Season, Silvestre said it’s between the Portuguese pair of Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot. He gave a slight edge to the midfielder.

“For me Man United’s player of the season is either Bruno Fernandes or Diogo Dalot. Bruno is the centre of the team and he is the captain. He has had some difficult games, but not awful games. He has been consistent and I think his teammates would vote for him.”

Premier League Team Of The Season

For his Team Of The Season, the Frenchman went with 10 players from the top two sides – Man City and Arsenal. The only player not from either team is Ollie Watkins whose goals helped Aston Villa book a Champions League spot for the first time since 1983.

Silvestre's Premier League Team Of The Season

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