Football Insights – Kevin Campbell
With the delayed finish to last seasons Premier League campaign, the new season has come about quickly for football fans. Former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell spoke exclusively to GentingBet about his former clubs and their chances coming into the new campaign and you can watch Kevin and Neil Mellor preview all the top games in the opening Premier League exchanges.
Kevin Campbell On Arsenal
What will be considered a successful season for Arsenal this year?
Arsenal need to finish in the Top Four and win a trophy for it to be considered a successful season. Obviously, they won the FA Cup last season but it was their worst finish ever in the Premier League. Arsenal might not have enough quality at the moment to finish in the Top Four but they are getting there. The Transfer Window doesn't close until October 5th and there needs to be some moving and shaking in order to get the squad up to speed. I think this Transfer Window is the most important one for Arsenal for the past five or 10 years – they need to allow Arteta and Edu to move and shake.
Arsenal have quality in their squad but over the course of a season, they’ll need to be able to contend with injuries, lots of form, etc. It is the consistency that they need and they don't have the squad for it yet.
How impressed have you been with Mikel Arteta since he's joined the club? Do you think he can go on to become one of the best coaches in modern football?
Mikel Arteta inherited a squad that were disjointed, unmotivated and he is winning them around. You can see they have more belief in themselves now. There is a will to win now, which is what a lot of the Arsenal fans have been crying out for. Mikel Arteta is a man that knows what is required to succeed - he's been pretty straightforward with this. He requires the players to be focused and disciplined in what they do. And I think he's getting there. If Arteta is backed properly, he can prove to be one of the best young managers around.
Were you surprised that Chelsea didn't do more to keep hold of Willian?
I’m not surprised that Chelsea didn’t do more to keep Willian and it is for one reason. I actually thought William was one of Chelsea best players last season but the issue that Chelsea have is they have an embarrassment of riches. They’ve got the likes of Hudson-Odoi coming through who has been given a good contract. They’ve just signed Ziyech, so they’ve got a fair few players who can play in those wide positions. And Willian is the oldest of the lot which is why he ended up being the one to leave the club.
From an Arsenal perspective, I was delighted when I heard Arsenal were going for him. He will be a welcome addition to Arsenal because he's one of those players who could pick the ball up deep in transition and take you right up the upper end of the pitch. He can score himself, he can assist and he’s still fit and ready. He's won the Premier League. He knows what he's doing and is a very, very good player. He is a really good addition for Arsenal.
Do you see Saliba and Gabriel as the future of Arsenal's defence? How important is it to have young, exciting defensive talent at the club after so many years of struggling in that position?
Saliba and Gabriel are 100 per cent the future of Arsenal and they will hopefully be the mainstay of this Arsenal defence for the next decade. David Luiz has had his rocky moments, although he came good at the end of last season but he will be key to help getting them settled in and understanding what the Premier League is all about. He has experience on his side and will be vital for them.
Mikel Arteta will want them to be the rock and foundation of the team for the future and they have the quality to do that. However, positions like this haven’t been addressed at Arsenal for over a decade. Now Arsenal have bought in the centre backs but they need to address another problem position and bring in Thomas Partey. But having these two rocks at the back who are both quick, both strong and who can both could defend one on one - this is what Arsenal need if they are going to progress up the table and challenge.
How important is it for Arsenal to sign long-term target, Thomas Partey?
Thomas Partey is the most important signing for Arsenal. A player like Thomas Partey stops things getting to the Back Four – he is that screen that sits there, like Vieira and Gilberto were – someone who protects the Back Four so they don’t even need to break a sweat. They haven’t had that kind of player since Gilberto, who was such an unsung hero. That type of player, Arsenal have missed. I believe that getting Thomas Partey is the priority and I think that they will get the business done in the end but I'm sure they have to get a couple of bodies out of the club before they bring him in.
How much do Arsenal need a player like Houssem Aouar?
Houssem Aouar is a creative player who would be an excellent addition to the squad. This is why I think this is the most important transfer period for Arsenal in probably a decade because there's a lot of things that Arsenal need to address if they are going to push on – and players aren’t going to get cheaper the further you go. As you start to challenge, players will get more expensive so if you can do the business now, you have to get them now. This is what Mikel Arteta and Edu are doing. Aouar is a very good, creative player. He got to the Champions League Semi-Final with Lyon and looks a real star. I can 100 per cent see him playing at Arsenal and it would be really good business if they can get him.
What do you make of Arsenal resigning Dani Ceballos. How important of a signing will that prove to be this season?
Dani Ceballos is a player that has proven himself at the back end of last season. There were times last season under Emery where he played some great games and there were also times where he didn't. He needed time to adjust after picking up a couple of injuries but under Arteta, especially since the restart, he has been superb. – he was excellent in the FA Cup Semi-Final and Final. He knows what Arteta wants and Arteta knows that Ceballos can give it to him. So, I think that's a really good bit of business. There's no transfer fee, he’s already incorporated in the squad – it is a good piece of business.
Should Arsenal keep hold of Ainsley Maitland Niles or does he need a fresh challenge?
Ainsley Maitland Niles needs to stay at Arsenal – you don’t get rid of England international players. Before the Community Shield, you could see Arsenal selling him as he wanted the guarantee of playing games which Arsenal might not have been able to give. He’s so versatile so is an excellent squad player but he will want to start games. But after he performed the way he performed against Liverpool in the Community Shield, after his performances in the FA Cup last year, and now he is an England international and you don't get rid of England internationals from your squad, that's for sure.
I’m sure Arteta never wanted to sell him. There might have been pressure from the club to do the business in order to bring in funds to get in other signings like Partey but now that he is an England international, you need to keep him and look to do the business elsewhere in the squad to bring in those funds because Maitland Niles needs to stay.
Emi Martinez was a revelation last season, should Arsenal keep hold of him or do they need to sell him?
Emi Martinez has done really well recently. When you think about it, he has been the goalkeeper for both of Arsenal’s past two trophies. He has been cool and collected and his passing has even had a hand in creating some lovely passing movement from the rest of the team. I really like him and there is nothing else he could have done to stake his claim.
The problem is that Arsenal spent a lot of money on a goalkeeper in Leno, so Martinez is seen as the Number Two. Not taking anything away from Leno but I see both keepers as Number One – a 1a and 1b – that is how tight the competition is. Ultimately though, Arteta might need to sell him to bring in money to fund other players.
Should Arsenal accept a bid for Hector Bellerin if PSG offer the right amount?
Arsenal will need to box clever in the transfer market and could sell Bellerin to free up funds. Arsenal now have Cedric, a Portuguese international who knows the Premier League well and is a very good full back. They’ve also got Maitland Niles who is also very good on both flanks. So, Bellerin is the type of player that it wouldn't be the end of the world to cash in because I don’t think it necessarily weakens Arsenal. But the money has to be right.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang is yet to sign a new contract at Arsenal, is there a danger that he will leave before the end of the Transfer Window? And how much will that derail Arsenal's plans for the rest of the season?
Arsenal cannot under any circumstances lose Aubameyang. If he leaves, their season will be derailed as they don’t have anyone else who is capable of scoring 20 plus goals that he will get you. He cannot go anywhere. But he will sign - it's just a few formalities to do. He is the captain. He's lifted two bits of silverware under the new manager already, he can see the club is on the up and as captain will want to be part of that. He’ll see that Arteta sets up his team with an opportunity to win and that is what all players want – they want to win. There will be uproar if he was to leave now but I think it is just a formality. The biggest signing for the club will be keeping their captain.
It's been reported that Alex Lacazette has been offered as part of a swap deal to bring in Partey. Can Arsenal afford to lose him from their attack?
I don't like to admit this, but if it is the only way to bring in Thomas Partey, I can see Arsenal parting with Lacazette. I don't want him to leave because I think he gives Arsenal something totally different. He’s very good at holding up the ball which gives Aubameyang time to get his runs going inside and score more goals. Don’t forget, Aubameyang scored 20 goals with Lacazette in the side. I don’t think Aubameyang is that good with his back to goal, he's a lot better runner running towards the goal so it might lessen the threat of the team. So, ideally, I’d like to keep Lacazette and get Partey as well.
Would you have liked to see Mesut Ozil leave the club this summer to free up some funds and allow more opportunities for the youngsters in the squad?
Mesut Ozil has been a good player for Arsenal over the years but I would have liked him to leave this summer. I have nothing against him, he is a top player but he isn’t the future of Arsenal. Him leaving would free up massive funds will be like a new kitty for Mikel Arteta to use. He is paid a hefty sum of money which he deserves as it is part of his contract but the opportunity to get that money off your wage bill is very attractive. With the money, Arsenal will be able to attract other players. So, no disrespect to Ozil as a player, I just feel Arsenal need to be looking to the future which Ozil isn’t the future with only 12 months left on his contract.
Does Matteo Guendouzi still have a future at the club?
The time might be right for Arsenal to cash in on Matteo Guendouzi. I know there was a fall out between Guendouzi and Arteta and Guendouzi was reprimanded and rightly so – as a young manager you need to do as your manager says. Having an opinion is good but you still have to toe the line like everyone else. Truth is though, I don’t see where Guendouzi comes in to the side. You’ve got Xhaka, who has been in excellent form, Ceballos has come back and Arsenal are looking at recruiting Partey and Aouar – he wouldn’t play amongst those.
Would you like to see Arsenal send out Rob Holding on loan or does he still have a role to play at the club this season?
Arsenal need to keep Rob Holding at the club. Saliba and Gabriel are going to need a bedding in period of them getting used to the Premier League. Also, David Luiz picked up a knock as well, so there might be an opportunity for Rob Holding to establish himself in amongst that back that backline.
We know Mikel Arteta either plays with a Back Four or a Back Five but whatever he does, Rob Holding needs to be a part of that. He is British, he knows the Premier League and he’s performed. So, I want him to stay. I think other players, like Mustafi and Sokratis should be leaving the football club to create space for those guys.
Who do you expect to be Arsenal's stand-out player this season?
I’d like Arsenal’s stand-out player this season to be one of the new Centre Backs because that means that the team will be consistent. It would mean that not too many goals are going in so I'd like it to be Saliba or Gabriel. But i’ll take a steady season from them this year, for the defence to improve and leave it for the forwards to take all the glory!
Kevin Campbell On Everton
What can this Everton side achieve under Carlo Ancelotti?
Everton need to be finishing in the Top Six or Seven, going for Europe, and they need to be winning a cup. They need to because Carlo Ancelotti is a winner. And after what they’ve done in the transfer window – they’ve swapped out a clapped-out Cortina engine and put in a Bentley or Rolls Royce engine. The three players that define are top class, so that engine room is revamped.
Everton should be ready to go now because they've got the production from the front boys, the defence hasn't been too bad, but the midfield just hasn’t been up to speed. Ancelotti has come in and recognised that and has made the move to rectify that. And God has he rectified that. I'm sure the Blues will be buzzing with the signings they have made.
With the signings that they have made – should this Everton side be pushing to finish in the Champions League places this season?
It is the first taste of the Premier League for the likes of Allan and Rodriguez so I wouldn’t want to put too much pressure on them but Doucouré is going to hit the ground running, no doubts about him whatsoever. I think the Goodison faithful will love Allan because of his tenacity and the way he can play – he’s a very good footballer. And Rodriguez, he hasn’t had a lot of football over the past few years having struggled with injuries and not being picked so there is going to be a bit of a transition there. So, if Everton can finish in the Top Six or Top Seven, it would be really impressive.
Just how good of a signing in James Rodriguez for Everton?
James Rodriguez is a world class talent. There aren’t many times that you can say that Everton have signed a player in his prime from Real Madrid. Because of the Carlo Ancelotti factor, Everton are able to do that.
Now, Everton are going to have to come up with the system in order to get the best out of him because we know what he can do. After all, he is a World Cup Golden Boot winner. This is the type of talent and quality that is coming into the club. So, I'm sure Ancelotti will do great and give him the opportunity to thrive. I just want to see him do so well because I think when players like this come into the Premier League, it's such a such a blessing for the league and Everton for a player like this to come and join.
Everton looked to have confirmed the signing of Abdoulaye Doucouré from Watford. How important of a signing will he be for the club?
There were other clubs in for Doucouré so it is a great piece of business for Everton. For a couple of seasons, I’ve been shouting for him to sign for Arsenal because of that physicality. His style is smart. He can play defensive, he can play box to box, he can do multiple things. It is vital to have a player like that in the Premier League.
He is a player that Everton have been after for the last two seasons, even when Marco Silva was at the club. So, it is third time lucky for the club. Everton are a big club though, so I’m not surprised they have signed him,
Everton also added Brazilian, Allan, to their midfield. Do Everton now have one of the strongest midfields in the league?
Everton now have one of the strongest midfields in the league. If you look around the league, there are good midfields without the star names but this Everton midfield can go up against anybody really – pound for pound. However, the great thing about football is that star names are one thing, you need to go out there and prove you can do it week in, week out. That is the most important thing. So, Everton have made great additions in midfield but they now have to prove how good they are.
With the current turmoil at Barcelona, is there a fear that they will come back in for Richarlison? Should Everton sell under any circumstances?
Richarlison is going nowhere. I have no worries that Richarlison is heading to Barcelona – they are on a different tangent now. When you see the quality of players coming into the club, he’ll be rubbing his hands and thinking, now we have a team. A lot of the work he used to have to do going backwards, he’s not going to have to do now. Also, there are a lot of problems going on at Barcelona at the moment and he’s not going to want any part of that. So, I don’t see him going anywhere.
Do you think Moise Kean has a future at Everton under Carlo Ancelotti?
Moise Kean certainly has a future at Everton under Ancelotti. That is the thing about football – one season you could be struggling for form and the next season, you can be a star. It was his first season in the league last year – he is now a year wiser. People forget that he is a young man still, so with the experience in the Premier League now, he is going to show a lot more than he did last year.
Does Jordan Pickford still have the quality to be England's Number One?
Jordan Pickford deserves to be England’s Number One. Yes, he’s made some mistakes but find me a keeper that doesn’t make mistakes. As they say in football, possession is 9/10th of the law - the England shirt is currently his so it is up to others to come and take it from him but as long as he performs, it is his. Certainly though, Pickford needs a really good season this year to answer some of the question marks on his head.
Kevin Campbell On The Premier League
With the money that they've spent during the transfer window, do you expect Chelsea to challenge for the Premier League this season?
Chelsea will be under a lot of pressure to start the season well after the amount of money they’ve spent this Transfer Window. When you spend that sort of money and bring in that amount of quality to the club, Chelsea need to compete with Liverpool and Man City for the Premier League title. And not just challenging but there is a bridge to gap first. The elongated Transfer Window that they had is going to definitely make them challenge. The pressure is on Frank Lampard now – he had a year’s grace where he was able to blood youngsters in but they’ve gone into the purse strings now, he’s used some of Chelsea’s money and now the pressure is on.
Which new signing are you most excited to see play in the Premier League?
There are a lot of good players coming in to the Premier League this season but the one I’m most excited for is James Rodriguez. He is a word class talent and how he performs at Everton will be something to behold.