Mills & Boom: Arsenal to fight for fifth

22 July 2011 10:12
Danny Mills explains in his TEAMtalk column how Arsenal will be left fighting for fifth and why Luka Modric is destined to sign for Chelsea.

Cesc Fabregas, Gervinho, Shay Given, Luka Modric, Charles N'Zogbia, Arsenal and Manchester City all come under the microscope in my latest column. Give it a read and let me know your thoughts.

Arsenal struggle

It looks as though Cesc Fabregas is desperate to get back to Barcelona and get back with his Spanish team-mates. But if he does go I'm not quite sure how often he will play because Barcelona, as you all know, are a fantastically talented team.

They have Sergio Busquets, who could have played in the European Under-21 tournament in the summer as the holding midfielder. Xavi and Andres Iniesta are not the youngest and Fabregas might just have to bide his time.

But getting back to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger needs to buy a goalkeeper, a centre-half, he will also have to replace Fabregas and he needs to buy someone to support Robin van Persie in scoring the goals.

The goalkeeper has not really been replaced since David Seaman and they haven't got a Martin Keown or a Sol Campbell type or in modern-day terms a John Terry or a Nemanja Vidic-style defender and that's what is needed when the going gets tough. Hence the capitulation last season at Newcastle when they lost a four-goal lead.

Van Persie is a great player, but I believe he needs an out-and-out striker alongside him to score 20 goals because they don't have a Wayne Rooney or a Didier Drogba.

Wenger has brought Gervinho in from Lille, but I'm not so sure he'll get 20 goals in the Premier League next season.

Arsene always manages to find a diamond in the rough, but French football is not quite as robust as the Premier League and I think it will take him some time to settle in. Even Thierry Henry took time to settle in when he arrived, as did Nicolas Anelka.

And unless Wenger really does dip into the transfer market and do some serious spending and bring some serious players in, then I think they could well drop outside the top four next season and could easily end up in fifth or sixth place.

Manchester United have strengthened and Chelsea will too; Liverpool have spent a lot of money, Manchester City will spend and I really think all four teams may now be ahead of the Gunners. These clubs all have quality and strength in depth.

Arsenal may well be left to fight for fifth spot with Spurs, who have a similar size squad.

Building for the future

Manchester City are no doubt building something for the future, but they are not quite there yet. It has to be done slowly and third place won't be guaranteed, but it will be expected of City.

If I'm honest though I still think City will finish third next season.

When I look at their squad I think they have some very good players, but I think they just lack something to challenge for the Premier League title.

Chelsea will strengthen, Manchester United have certainly got stronger and they have made some very good signings and they have got that experience and know what it takes to win.

I think the Carlos Tevez saga is a little bit unsettling for City and they need to get a couple of strikers in to score a few more goals, especially if Carlos Tevez leaves.

Great signing

I think Shay Given is a great signing for Aston Villa.

I spoke to Shay last season on a few occasions and he was just desperate to play football. City wouldn't let him leave and go to one of their rivals because he is such a good goalkeeper.

He is in his mid-30's, but for a keeper that's fine. He keeps himself fit, he works very hard and he's a fantastic shot-stopper.

He didn't upset the apple cart at City. He just got on with his job, he wasn't happy about not playing, but he understood the situation and took it on the chin and he has waited patiently.

Shay is just a really good goalkeeper and I wish him all the best.

Player power

Chelsea have reportedly made a bid for Romelu Lukaku from Anderlecht.

He's a young player and very strong. I saw him in the Europa League last season and he is a raw talent and he would certainly add even more firepower to that Chelsea frontline.

Chelsea already have Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou, Florent Malouda and Fernando Torres, but they are missing that pivotal midfield player and it's no surprise that Luka Modric is their top target.

I think he has now said that he wants to leave Tottenham and so Spurs could be in a sitiation where they have got an unhappy player who wants to leave.

He is integral to what Spurs are trying to achieve and Tottenham are desperate to keep him, but it may well come down to what the player wants and money.

Modric has made it clear he wants to go and Tottenham will have to try and get as much money as possible.

Do you keep hold of Modric, who maybe doesn't want to play?

Then every time he gets a slight injury he might well say: "It's sore and I don't want to play; I'll rest instead."

It's a difficult situation and player power takes over.

The top players have the upperhand and can sometimes force the issue and I think this may well happen and Modric could well be at Chelsea come the end of August.

Suspect temperament

Another player who looks set to move is Charles N'Zogbia and it could well be another case of a player making a move happen.

I did it at Charlton when I said hypothetically: "What if I don't want to play for you next season?"

The club then has an issue, as long as you turn up for training and you don't break your contract and do anything wrong.

N'Zgobia has been courted by several teams. I think Newcastle tried to buy him in the January transfer window.

He's a very talented player, but I'm not so sure about his temperament. He tends to move from every club he has been at every couple of years and he hasn't quite managed to settle in and he's probably seen as a direct replacement for Stewart Downing at Aston Villa.

He's got a fantastic left foot and he can also play on the other wing, cutting inside and Villa will be looking for him to provide the service for Darren Bent.

I think Villa have got a bit of rebuilding to do and it won't be an easy start for Alex McLeish, especially if he loses a couple of games.

I think the fans will be pretty vicious, but Villa are a good, stable Premier League side and I think mid-table is almost guaranteed - it's just whether they can make some signings and really kick on to get into the top six or top eight.

Paper talk

And finally with the transfer speculation in full swing players will always say they don't read the papers, but that's complete nonsense because players do read things.

I always read the papers when I played; I didn't always believe what I read but I certainly read the papers.

But when you are at a club you always get a feeling whether you are wanted and you know the players who have a relationship with the manager and you know who the manager is trying to bring in.

A lot of it is purely rumours and paper talk with papers needing to fill their back pages. Of course agents play a big role, trying to get players new contracts and moves, but players don't take it too seriously. But those players who are going to get replaced will probably already know and have a gut feeling.

Have Your Say on Danny's opinions by using the Comments facility below. You can also listen to Danny on Skysports News Radio every week.

Source: Team_Talk

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