Parlour expects improvement

  • Last Updated: August 13 2014, 14:30 BST

Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour can see plenty to suggest the club will improve on last season's efforts in 2014/15 - but is not betting on Arsene Wenger's side winning the Barclays Premier League title.

Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy celebrate during the Community Shield
Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy celebrate during the Community Shield

The Gunners once again finished fourth in the top flight in 2013/14, but also ended a nine-year trophy drought by triumphing in the FA Cup final.

Since then, their squad has been boosted by signings like Chile's World Cup forward Alexis Sanchez and France defender Mathieu Debuchy.

And with Arsenal preparing for this weekend's Premier League kick-off off the back of a 3-0 victory over reigning champions Manchester City in the Community Shield, a sense of optimism about what Wenger's men can achieve this time out has continued to grow among the club's fans.

That feeling is certainly shared by Parlour, who thinks Sanchez is "perfect" for the division.

But for all that is coming together in promising fashion at the Emirates Stadium, the 41-year-old ex-England international believes either Chelsea or City are likely to end up top of the pile.

Parlour, speaking in London at a McDonald's and Football Association Community Football Day, told Press Association Sport: "I think the bookmakers get it right a lot of the time and Chelsea and Manchester City are probably joint favourites.

"I think Manchester United will have a better season, and there's Liverpool as well. That league is such a tough league.

"In terms of who Arsenal have bought, I was sorry to see Bacary Sagna go as he was a good right-back, but Debuchy is in front of Sagna in the France side so that was a good replacement.

"I watched Sanchez in the World Cup and he is definitely a player who can excite the fans and is always involved.

"He got kicked a lot in the games and showed his mettle by getting up straight away and carrying on. So I think he would be perfect for the Premier League.

"If they can get one or two more in before the end of this transfer window, then they will have a good squad, and their players are at good ages, in midfield especially.

"Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere - all these top players are at a good age and they should be maturing every single year.

"I am really pleased they won a trophy last season - that was so important for Arsene Wenger.

"He knew the pressure, and for the players, that first trophy is always the hardest to win. Hopefully they can push on now.

"But if you look at all the squads, Man City and Chelsea are stronger.

"I'm hoping Arsenal can be up there. I'm always optimistic.

"But if you were putting your money where your mouth was, you can't look further probably than Man City or Chelsea."

Parlour, who played for Arsenal for 12 years until 2004, won the Premier League and the FA Cup three times each during his days at the club under Wenger.

It was too long ago for many of the children involved in the McDonald's and FA event he attended at Long Lane JFC to have seen but they showed their enthusiasm nonetheless towards Parlour, who in turn was highly approving of the work being done there at grass-roots level.

He said: "This is what it is all about - grass-roots football, getting people involved, getting people playing the game.

"They are trying to do the best they can to get kids at a young age passing and moving.

"Lots of them have come up to me and probably a lot of them don't remember me playing, but they are still asking me to sign their books!"