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Gerard Brand
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2020 06 30 Retrieve

[Is Arsenal’s new and improved defence already under their nose?] Against Sheffield United there were still some scary moments that may have gone punished from a side with more confidence, but there are some positives emerging from the Arsenal defence

Rob Holding was MOTM against Saints; he did the simple things simply, which may seem basic but is still an improvement, and what really impressed me was the way he commanded the defence and pushed them up when Arsenal attacked, which reduces that gap between midfield and defence we’ve seen so often. I also think he’s a decent passer into midfield and gets the game going quickly

Kieran Tierney was also impressive against Sheffield United, so the positives are there, but there is a long, long way to go. There’s no doubt there is plenty of work to be done

2020 07 15 Retrieve

[Mesut Ozil: What is going on with Arsenal midfielder?] My main feeling would just be confusion over Ozil. That wouldn’t be a new feeling either. Arsenal fans often seem quite split on Ozil. There are those who want to know what on earth is going on, who want to know how Arteta is going to use him, who want to know why he doesn’t always perform every week, those who don’t like his body language. And then there are those who hark back to moments of class he’s shown in an Arsenal shirt and wonder whether he’ll do it again. Ozil has been at Arsenal for seven years. That’s longer than Robert Pires was at Arsenal. It’s only one year less than Thierry Henry’s main stint. When you think about it, that’s a long time to be waiting for Ozil to really prove he can add to this Arsenal side every week, against any opposition, at any time. He’s at an age where I don’t think he can change his game, and Arsenal won’t change their style at a time where they need to build from the back in blocks

2020 07 18 Retrieve

[Is this the best Man Utd team since Sir Alex Ferguson retired] Is this the best United side since Fergie left? Yes and no. Is this the most exciting United side to watch since Fergie retired? Yes, I think it is. They can score all sorts of goals, and the entire midfield and front three are on form

But the true test of a good team is how you react and get yourself off the canvas. The signs since the restart are good; they reacted well a few days after the shock late Saints equaliser, but the true test is to come again when things don’t go their way for a couple of games back-to-back. I think there are still question marks there, and no team has won a domestic trophy with four or six weeks of good form

If we’re looking at United since Fergie left, I do believe the best side they had on balance of both attack and defence sense was 2017/18 season under Jose Mourinho, earning 81 points and conceding just 28 goals all season. But many would say they sacrificed entertaining football for results… it really does depend on what floats your boat!

[how important Champions League qualification is for the three sides battling it out for two places - Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester United] I don’t think you can underestimate how important this is for all three sides. People say: ‘Well none of these sides will get past the last eight of the competition, what’s all the fuss and excitement about?’ But it’s not just about competing in next season’s Champions League, it’s about what calibre of player you can attract to the club. Many at Liverpool point back to their top-four finish on the last day of the 2016/17 season; that summer they sign Mo Salah, six months later they’re signing Virgil van Dijk, another six months later they’re signing Alisson, a year after that they’re winning the Champions League, and a year after that they’re winning the title. It’s the ultimate springboard. Would they have done it without Champions League qualification? Probably not