Paul Parker

Forget about Mourinho’s ‘negative’ Chelsea, stylish Arsenal can win title

Paul Parker

Former Manchester United and England defender Paul Parker gives his hard-hitting opinions on the top contenders for the Premier League title after the first quarter of the season before predicting how the top four will finish in May. Look away now if you are Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, Brendan Rodgers or Andros Townsend.

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Arsenal
Current position: 1st - 25 points from 11 games

I am only judging it after the first 11 games and the evidence provided so far. But if you are going to predict a team to win the league, I would go for Arsenal. They have played the best football so far. Wenger seems to have a settled side, and if he can be lucky with the injuries, they would be my tip for the title. Even though you can question their depth, you would have to say Arsenal are the best team in the league at the moment.

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Liverpool
Current position: 2nd - 23 points from 11 games

Liverpool are all about the front two of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. We've seen Arsenal nullify the front two recently, and that is their biggest problem. Who do they fall back on if those two stop firing? There was never going to be a problem in a 4-0 win over Fulham. Not when Philippe Senderos was in the back line.

Liverpool won't win the league, but they have the opportunity to do it because all the other teams are dropping points. This is certainly their best chance since Rafael Benitez finished second in 2009, and arguably a better opportunity than Benitez had. If he was still in charge, I think Liverpool would have their best chance to win the Premier League since they last won it in 1990. He manages teams well. I wasn't his biggest fan, but he proved his worth again by doing a terrific job at Chelsea last year.

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Chelsea
Current position: 4th - 21 points from 11 games

There are too many issues at Chelsea going on. When you have a manager who can't be humble in defeat, then you know there is a problem. Jose Mourinho has tried his best to ruin all the good work Benitez did towards the end of last season. He has changed the style of play, but that has not been a positive move.

Mourinho tried to play down the Europa League after Chelsea won it under Benitez. He suggested it was a nothing tournament, yet he won the old UEFA Cup before winning the Champions League the following season with Porto. The Europa League remains the second best club tournament in the world behind the Champions League. He wanted to disrespect it which makes him a hypocrite.

Benitez got a great response from all the Chelsea players. The quality in the Europa League at the end is excellent. Mourinho wanted to disrespect it because Benitez won it. He has never learned to be humble. He remains a very bitter man who continues to bear grudges.

The Juan Mata situation is embarrassing. The best judges of players remain players. The moment he came on at the weekend in the 2-2 draw with West Brom, the game changed. He nearly scored, barring a great save from Boaz Myhill. All Chelsea were doing before Mata came on was going from back to front. Oscar is not as good as Mata. He is not a No. 10. He needs Mata to make things happen for himself.

Mourinho has nullified some great players. He is not allowing players to play in the fashion they were brought to the club for. Look at Arjen Robben and Joe Cole under Mourinho at Chelsea. Joe Cole never recovered from playing under Mourinho at Chelsea. He lost all his confidence.

Andre Schuerrle has lost a lot since he joined the club. He is being used in a negative defensive role when he is naturally an attacking wide player. What has happened to him? Mourinho has turned him into a player he is not. Like he did to Cole.

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Manchester United
Current position: 5th - 20 points from 11 games

Manchester United are back in it because their points total suggests they are back in it. For a side apparently having a bad season, United have 20 points. Contrast Liverpool, who have 23 and are having a fabulous campaign. Brendan Rodgers is pumping himself up big time as the PR man for the Premier League, but Moyes is still in there. It is not that drastic at all for United.

They had to beat Arsenal. It wasn't just about going 11 points behind Arsenal, more about Moyes proving he can win big games. In theory, United gave a very Everton-type performance with a little bit of guile at the end courtesy of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Of course, United can't play that way all season.

They're not going to lift themselves in that manner. We've seen that at home to West Brom and at home to Southampton. They can't go on that way relying on that way of playing.

There is still a Manchester United way of playing that has to be achieved. That will bring confidence to the team and the fans. They need to get some pattern of play. Phil Jones had his best game for Manchester United on Sunday. That was down to the fact he was given a job and he knew what to do. If you give him to much to think about, he struggles. He got stuck in, won his tackles and the end product was three points for the team.

Stretching their lead in matches has been United's biggest problem this season. The doubts are still there. Rising to the occasion in the big games will not win titles. You can't continue to drop silly points in games you expect to win.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Current position: 7th - 20 points from 11 games

Spurs have gone shopping to buy Hugo Boss suits, and in theory they look like they have come out with gear from Marks and Spencers. Like Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas is very negative. Look at the quality they have got. Why is the tempo not high from the start? I can respect the need to alter tactics away from home, but at White Hart Lane it should be high energy right from the start.

People are wary of good teams at the start of games. I know this from experience. Spurs are like a Frank Bruno punch. You can see it coming. You know when it is going to hit you so you make plans accordingly. Like Newcastle did at the weekend.

You also now have Andros Townsend thinking he is number one, and trying to do everything on his own. He comes inside for a run and shot, but he is suddenly getting blocked. He needs to relax, change his game and maybe even be asked to take a seat on the sidelines for a while to have a look at what is going on from the stands. If he steps out, he can think about it. I think he is believing the hype. He needs to change his style to suit the situation.

Spurs are not playing the way Spurs should be playing given the money they have spent. The biggest mistake Villas-Boas has made is having a go at the fans. Alex Ferguson asked things of the fans, but never had a go at them.

Spurs have not looked like winning the title since perhaps the 1970s when they had Ossie Ardiles, but they were never spending the amount of money they have now. Suddenly the expectation levels among the fans rise. This is what happens. Tottenham fans are thinking to themselves, 'we were better last season'. I think of players not being allowed to express themselves. It is the same problem at Chelsea.

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Manchester City
Current position: 8th - 19 points from 11 games

You look at City. You thought their problems had gone on the road when they won at West Ham and outplayed Chelsea despite losing. Sergio Aguero did really well on his own at Chelsea, but Manuel Pellegrini's side have no cutting edge with David Silva missing.

I keep thinking they are going to click, they must with the amount of talent they have in their ranks, but they are taking a while to get there. City could yet win the Premier League quite comfortably, but they have to find some consistency to go with a squad that on paper is the best in the league.

Paul Parker's Premier League top four

1. Arsenal
2. Manchester City
3. Chelsea
4. Manchester United

Do you agree with Paul's predictions? Leave your comments and tips below.

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