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Monday, January 25, 2021

Arsenal’s lost soul, Manchester United’s title challenge

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Today could have been the day that Liverpool got their hands on that elusive Premier League trophy.

However, with the coronavirus crisis still causing football to be postponed, the wait continues.

Hopefully, in the coming weeks, we will know for sure when the Premier League can safely resume its campaign.

Here is a round-up of the day’s very latest news concerning Liverpool’s rivals.

Neville more confident of United title challenge next season

Manchester United legend Gary Neville believes his former club can mount a serious title challenge next season due to their “very strong” position in the summer transfer window.

Many top clubs across Europe have issued their players with wage-cuts to help deal with the financial crisis caused by coronavirus.

However, United are still paying their players the full amount agreed on and Neville sees the financial power of his ex-club being a real advantage going into next season.

“If we hadn’t had this virus, I think Man Utd could’ve been two or three years away,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“Where I think there is a massive change in making them competitive is if you were a top player in Europe at this moment in time, and you had the choice of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, all those clubs, Manchester United would likely lose out on those players because of where they are in the cycle of the team.

“I think now, out of those eight clubs, I think six of them could be completely redundant in the transfer market in terms of spending £60m, £80m. Manchester United’s ability will still be there.

“So, I don’t know why it is, but I feel a little more confident in Manchester United’s ability to challenge next season just because of what’s happened, and the fact they started to play a lot better before this lockdown.”

Wenger: Arsenal left their soul at Highbury

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes his former club “left their soul” at Highbury following their move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.

Wenger was in charge of the Gunners for their final decade at Highbury, and led them to three league titles and four FA Cup triumphs.

However, the Gunners are yet to win a Premier League title since moving to their new stadium and Wenger believes they “left their soul” at their old ground as a result of the move.

“You are always in a position when you are a football club to move forward or stay in the past. To compete with the other clubs, we had to build a new stadium. The rules had changed,” the French manager told beIN Sports.

“We wanted to create the same as Highbury but we left our soul at Highbury. We could never recreate exactly. We didn’t find exactly the same atmosphere.”

Watford vote against neutral grounds

Watford have become the latest club to vote against the Premier League’s Project Restart, with the idea proposed of playing at neutral stadiums.

The “Project Restart” states that the remaining 92 fixtures of the 2019/20 season will be played behind closed doors at eight-10 neutral grounds.

However, Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury believes this is the wrong way to continue the English top-flight.

“There is no altruism in the Premier League,” Duxbury wrote in The Times.

“There are 20 different vested interests which sometimes align but more often than not work purely to protect each individual club.

“That is why some clubs are happy to sign up to Project Restart because arguably there is only an upside in participating in this compromised format; it means Liverpool can win the title, other clubs can book their place in Europe next season or potentially fight their way up the table from a position of safety.

“But when at least six clubs – and I suspect more – are concerned about the clear downside and the devastating effects of playing in this kind of distorted nine-game mini-league, then I believe the Premier League has a duty of care to address those concerns.

“In the world of Covid-19, there is no such thing as an entirely safe environment wherever we play.

“The police also talk about fans flouting restrictions when football restarts and that this is a concern for the authorities, but I believe we would have more control over supporters playing at our own grounds.”

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