07 August 2017

Arsenal and Chelsea must spend big or they can kiss goodbye to their title chances

SIR ALEX FERGUSON always said you have to strengthen when you are at your strongest.

If his Manchester United side won the Premier League, Fergie used to sign two or three top players in the summer just to freshen things up.

Chelsea have lost six of last season’s title-winning squad this summer
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Alvaro Morata missed his spot-kick at Wembley
PA:Press Association

That is how you stay at the top for a sustained period of time.

At Blackburn, when we won the title in 1995, we did not strengthen and were made to pay with a seventh-place finish the following year.

I fear Chelsea might have made the same mistake this summer.

Yes, they have signed some good players in Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko, but they started yesterday’s Community Shield without any of them.

And they have also let six of last season’s title-winning squad leave, including John Terry and Nemanja Matic, with Diego Costa seemingly soon to join them.

There is no doubt they look short, which showed in yesterday’s penalty shootout defeat to Arsenal.

Antonio Conte is short of signings this summer
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Chelsea star Eden Hazard is reportedly wanted by Barcelona this summer
Chelsea star Eden Hazard will miss the start of the season with injury
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What doesn’t help is the fact that their best player, Eden Hazard, is set to miss the start of the season due to a fractured ankle.

Chelsea have 13 or 14 very good players who will match anyone. But with Champions League football this season, they are going to need more than that if they want to compete on all fronts.

They would need a lot of luck with injuries to get through the campaign and be successful with the squad they have at the moment.

I think they still need at least two or three new additions between now and the end of the transfer window.

With last season’s top scorer Costa set to depart, how the Blues fare this year will also largely depend on the form of Morata and Michy Batshuayi.

Neither were particularly impressive at Wembley and, when Costa does go, they will be the only two recognised central strikers at the club.

Alan Shearer has slammed Blackburn's owners after the club's relegation to League One
Alan Shearer has major doubts over Chelsea and Arsenal’s title chances
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea: Watch highlights from the Community Shield at Wembley as Arsenal win 4-1 in new 'ABBA' system penalty shootout

Mark Clattenburg speaks at half-time of Arsenal vs Chelsea Community Shield clash with viewers left in shock and awe at his voice
Arsenal and Chelsea pay tribute to the Grenfell fire victims ahead of the Community Shield at Wembley

The Blues paid a lot of money for Batshuayi last summer and he had a positive end to the season, which should stand him in good stead this time around.

But it’s still a big ask for him or Morata — whose confidence was hardly helped by missing a penalty in yesterday’s shootout — to replace the goals Costa has scored for Chelsea in the past three years.

I also really don’t understand why they sold Matic.

One, they’ve let him go when Bakayoko is not yet fit. And two, they have let him join a title rival.

Away from Chelsea’s woes, I am no more optimistic about Arsenal’s hopes this season. It’s nice for them that they won yesterday — another trophy following their FA Cup success over the same opposition in May.

But I still don’t think it gives them any advantage, psychological or otherwise, over Chelsea in the league.

Alan Shearer doesnt know why Chelsea sold Nemanja Matic to title rivals
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Arsenal have only made two major summer additions to their squad
Getty – Contributor

And it will hardly stop any criticism that will come towards manager Arsene Wenger and Arsenal if they stutter midway through the season.

One positive I think they can take from the Wembley game is the performance of Alexandre Lacazette.

He looked sharp, his link-up play was good and the ball stuck to him.

The Frenchman will give them something different this season, going in behind, with a bit of pace.

But Lacazette and yesterday’s goalscorer, Sead Kolasinac, are their only two signings this summer.

That is not enough for the Gunners if they want to be challenging for the title, which is ultimately what their supporters want.

It is also going to be interesting to see how the situation regarding Alexis Sanchez plays out. Arsene is adamant that his star man is staying. But if you are the Arsenal board, and you see that a player worth more than £50million could leave for nothing next summer, that must be very hard to take.

New boy Alexandre Lacazette goes close for Arsenal
New boy Alexandre Lacazette had a solid game at Wembley
News Group Newspapers Ltd
Arsenal new boy Sead Kolasinac headed home a late equaliser at Wembley
Arsenal new signing Sead Kolasinac has also impressed in pre-season
Rex Features

Still, even if Sanchez does stay, I don’t see Arsenal winning the league.

They will have their brilliant moments again, as they have had for a long time.

But I don’t see them being able to sustain that for a whole season.

Watching on this summer, it looks like there might have been a power shift from London to Manchester.

We talk about Chelsea and Arsenal not strengthening enough but last season’s second-placed side Tottenham have not signed anyone yet.

They fell short last year yet they have done nothing to try to rectify that.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino has vowed his side will dip into the transfer market this summer
PA:Press Association

Meanwhile, both Manchester United and Manchester City have splashed out millions to try to wrestle the title back.

City hired Pep Guardiola to win the Champions League and the Premier League, so he has to claim some silverware this season.

And I think they will be battling it out with United for the title come May.

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