By 90Min
September 09, 2017

Fan favourite Ray Parlour made over 450 appearances for Arsenal during happier times at the club - winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups and was part of the famous 'Invincibles' team of the 2003/04 season.

Many of his former teammates have been particularly vocal about their old club in recent weeks. So much so that Arsene Wenger has hit back at recent criticism from some of his former charges by reminding them that none of his old guard were 'perfect'.

Speaking to celebrate the launch of Papa John’s new Deep Crust pizza, 90min caught up with Parlour to talk about Arsenal's current problems, how many of the current crop would have made it into the squads of old and how he might 'trick' Alexis Sanchez into signing a new contract...

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Arsene Wenger has hit back at some of the ex-players and club legends from your era who've criticised him in recent weeks. What have you made of the situation at the club at the moment?

"Well, we had bad games too. I was involved in a game where we lost to Man Utd 6-1 at Old Trafford. You always get highs and lows during your career but you've always got a look at your performance and manner of how you lose a game.

"Sometimes you can walk off the pitch and say 'I gave everything today and the other team were better', but if you walk off the pitch and think 'well I could've done another 30% more today for the team' then that's not the right way to look at it.

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"You've got to have a lot of desire and commitment. You've got to be proud to wear the shirt and that performance against Liverpool. I could see it wasn't one of those games."

How was Wenger as a manager after those kinds of bad defeats?

"He would go away and watch the video back plenty of times, look at the goals, have a big meeting next day and go through goal by goal, situation by situation. He'd want a bit of feedback from the players to get it all out in the open.

"He's a totally different manager to say George Graham, who says what he thinks straight after the game. He'll assess it and see what went wrong and what he can improve, so everybody can learn and move on."

How many of the current players would make it into the early Wenger squads that you played in from the 90s up to the 'Invincibles' period?

"I don't know, really. It's hard to say. We had a very strong midfield obviously, with a lot of back up. That's an interesting question for Wenger because he's worked with lots of different players. 

"Maybe [Alexis] Sanchez, who's been the standout player, but when you're playing with the likes of [Thierry] Henry and [Dennis] Bergkamp it's difficult for a lot of players to get into that side.

"It's all about today not back in the day. You could also argue that the Premier League is a lot harder now. It is much more competitive these days."


What's been your take on the Alexis Sanchez saga this summer? Do you think he'll stay now, or is it only a matter of time before he goes?

"I don't know, only Sanchez and his representatives can tell you that. 

"It was a lot of money for Arsenal to turn down, but it would cost a lot of money to replace a player of his quality as well. I think he's the type of character that will always give 100%. He won't sulk - I'm with Wenger on that - and I'm sure the fans will see his passion to still play for Arsenal. 

"We all want him to sign a new contract, but at the end of the day it's up to the player and his representative."

There was some joking on Twitter early in the summer, after someone connected a tweet you wrote about taking Sanchez out for a few drinks and him not turning up to training the next day due to 'illness'. Did you see that?

"Oh yeah! It was all a muck about! Social media is very difficult these days. I would love to take him out to be fair though.

"I could take him out and he might sign and not know what's he's doing and regret it the next morning! We would have a bit of fun, put it that way! [laughs]"

"Social media has changed the whole picture of football now. If you were in the pub in my day, no-one had camera phones. You're in a bit of a bubble now as a footballer. Players are like pop stars now aren't they?"

Would you have survived in today's environment?

"Of course. You deal with it. You go with the times. You have to because you want to be a professional footballer. If I was playing in this day and age I'd live totally differently to how it was in the early 90s."

"We had a lot of fun though. I don't know if footballers have as much fun nowadays, but they can't afford to. There can be major consequences these days."

Win the chance to watch Chelsea vs Arsenal with Ray Parlour and try Papa John’s new Deep Crust pizza. 

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