• Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown returned to answer YOUR questions
  • Table-toppers Leicester City are on everyone’s lips after another win 
  • But Arsenal are struggling and now lag behind in the title race 
  • Manchester City host Leicester in mouthwatering clash on Saturday 
  • Gary Neville is under huge scrutiny at Valencia after 7-0 Barcelona loss 
  • Read below to find out all of Martin’s answers to your questions

Martin Keown for the Daily Mail

Former Arsenal and England defender-turned Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown returned to answer YOUR questions on the big talking points in football.

It has been a big week in the Premier League title race with Leicester City holding on to their three-point lead at the top of the table ahead of the visit to second-placed Manchester City on Saturday.

Manchester United got back to winning ways, thanks to Anthony Martial’s wonderful goal against Stoke, but Tottenham still hold the edge in the race for the Champions League. At the bottom of the table, meanwhile, Sunderland and Newcastle still look favourites to join seemingly doomed Aston Villa in relegation.

And Luis Suarez showed why he is now perhaps now the world’s best striker by adding to Gary Neville’s misery with four goals in a brutal 7-0 win for Barcelona. What now for the Manchester United legend in his first managerial job? 

See below to check out Martin’s answers to all of your questions. 

  • Martin Keown

    Host commentator

Arsenal are certainly in a rough patch but they only have to look at last season for inspiration. They were stunning in the second half of last season but for the last two years they have been a cup team. The suggestion being that a cup team can get themselves up for certain games but there is a lack of consistency in the league. They have had to play a lot of top teams in the FA Cup but they need to show some more consistency in the league.

This time, two months of the campaign have basically been a sabbatical. After a fantastic October where they won all four league games, they took just two points from a possible nine in November, including a 2-1 defeat at West Brom.

Then after five wins out of six in December and January, they are without a league win since beating Newcastle on January 2.

That’s the trouble with this team – too often they find themselves in a comfort zone. After finding form and getting on a roll they think they’ve won something when they’ve won nothing. That’s when you have to question their hunger.

When you are chasing the title you have to prepare for every game like a champion and a warrior. You can’t rest until it’s yours. Yes, there can be indifferent performances, but you can’t go for long spells like that without winning games.

I know the landscape is different this season with so many shocks, and there have been injury issues, but the trophy is still up for grabs.

Leicester’s bubble could burst in the next two games at Man City and Arsenal and this Arsenal team have to remember it’s still in their hands. Subconsciously, perhaps they and City have been waiting for Leicester to trip up but now they’ve got Tottenham right up there. That’s why the football has to be perfect from now on in.

It certainly wouldn’t guarantee it because there are lots of things that help you to be champions.

At the back I think Gabriel is trying to prove he’s a good option but I often think less is more, defensively. Flying into headers and tackles can create panic when what you really need is calm. Per Mertesacker also has plenty of experience but has lacked mobility.

I think it also affects this team that not many have done it before, when it comes to winning titles. I think that can affect big teams more whereas somebody like Leicester or Blackburn in the 1990s are a surprise package. That can mean the pressure is less than at somewhere like Arsenal where expectations are higher.

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud shows his frustration at his side’s recent form

It’s a tricky because, as a player, when you’re winning games you just keep thinking: ‘Bring it on.’ Players want to play every game and if they are in a winning team they won’t want to be rested.

It was always around this time of year that George Graham used to pull us together at Arsenal and tell us nothing else mattered apart from winning trophies. Between now and the end of the season it was about behaving correctly to make sure you gave yourself every chance of performing well and winning trophies.

Tottenham have done so well to get here but it’s possible some of these players may never have this chance again. It’s new territory and they have to take the chance because it might be the pinnacle. You never know what opportunities like this might come around again.

That’s when it comes down to the manager to negotiate them through. It may be that in order to focus on the league he has to sacrifice one competition. But the way they beat Leicester after a replay in the FA Cup showed a great deal of squad depth.

I remember saying earlier in the season that I wouldn’t discount Spurs. I’ve always felt they’ve had a soft centre but they have been defensively solid and excellent going forward. It will be interesting to see how they get on now because they have a fantastic opportunity.

I think Tony’s technique was excellent and he was actually quicker than a lot of people realised, especially over longer distances. That made him excellent in one-on-one situations.

Terry is good in the air but I think Adams was better. One of Terry’s biggest qualities is his ruthlessness but Tony shared that and always wanted to win and drag everybody over the line with him. In that respect, they are both very similar – they are excellent leaders.

I do think that Terry is not as mobile. He has enjoyed excellent protection over the years at Chelsea but at international level you could see sometimes he was in trouble. Of course he was an excellent defender but if you ask me who’s better then I’ll always pick Tony Adams.

Martin Keown with former Arsenal and England team-mate Tony Adams in 1999

To be honest I don’t know why he wants to play like a rugby player. He’s always spoiling for a fight and he wants to embarrass defenders. The problem is they can’t trust him. He is so physical and then goes down at the slightest touch. Yes, it’s good to be competitive but it should be fair.

I enjoyed a physical battle in my day and sometimes I sit and watch him and think it would have been a good contest. But you can’t trust Costa. You have to expect the unexpected and sometimes as a former player you just have to let these things go!

Diego Costa clashes with Juan Carlos Paredes of Watford on Wednesday

I’m sure he’s thinking there will be a few managers having a chuckle at him now. But he’s finding out how different life can be in the dugout.

The TV studio can be like a classroom, discussing theory all day. In practice it’s a very different situation. Losing to Barcelona can happen to anybody but to lose 7-0 in the manner they did is tough to take. And it’s not as if previous results have been spectacular.

When you look at Gary as a player, he may never have had the same natural ability as somebody like David Beckham but he worked so hard to become a top player. So he’s not the sort to throw in the towel, but whether he will be given the time is a different question.

You have to be a quick learner as a manager, those are the rules that he will have to play by. He’s talked about the language difficulty and Phil Neville said the same thing to me on Match of the Day. If there is a language barrier then it can be hard to get your ideas across, but you can still communicate urgency and emotions. Players can easily pick up if you’re angry or anxious.

So it’s better to create training drills that emphasise issues without needing much explanation. Not getting enough width? Focus on crossing. Struggling at set pieces? Practise them.

I remember Arsene Wenger telling me about his time in Japan. After a poor start he was called in to see the chairman. The chairman started explaining how bad things were and that it was obvious things had to change. Arsene feared the worst before the chairman turned and said: ‘We must sack the translator!’

I don’t know who Gary’s translator is but maybe they need to make sure the right messages are getting across…

Everyone who steps onto the pitch to play Barcelona is the underdog. There has to be a weakness somewhere but trying to find the necessary tactics to do it is another matter. Let’s not forget that Arsenal have beaten Bayern Munich this season, even if they did ride their luck.

Against Barcelona they will need plenty of luck but they have to go and engage with them if they want to have any chance. They have to press high up the pitch because once the ball reaches that front three, it’s game over.

Of course it will be tough but look at Leicester, they’re not letting the underdog status stop them this season. Although maybe we’ll find out just how they would cope in the Champions League next year!

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez celebrate Barcelona’s win over Valencia

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I’ve been on both ends of this. I’ve won titles and been relegated so I know what it feels like.

Both involve huge stresses and pressures but while there are similarities, there are some big differences. At the bottom you desperately need to win games but performances and results are, more often than not, bad. Whereas when you’re heading for the title you are on an upwards curve and you win more games than you lose.

At the bottom you are playing for your status as a Premier League player. I’ve talked before about the glow of being a top-flight player and how it becomes a huge part of your identity. Losing that and no longer being able to compete against the best can be a terrible feeling.

You play for professional pride, too, but you’ve also got the potential for people at the club to lose their jobs if you go down – it’s not just about you. That’s why it’s harder to fight for survival than for a title. It can be so hard to recover mentally in a relegation battle but Leicester’s experiences last year will help them hugely.

Last season they won seven of their last nine games to stay up and if they can match that this season while chasing the title then they will give themselves a fantastic chance.

Life is tougher at the bottom for the likes of Newcastle than at the top

If Leicester have the fairytale ending that so many people want, then Vardy’s goal would be a fitting effort to cap the story. It was a phenomenal strike.

Vardy has been Leicester’s player of the season, if not the Premier League’s best player. That strike showed he had it all and it typified Leicester’s season. It shows they have the confidence and the ability to try anything.

But I’ve loved watching Vardy. Yes it was a spectacular finish but seeing him go past defenders and goalkeepers with such raw speed brought back memories of the likes of Jimmy Greaves or Malcolm Macdonald.

We’ve become so used to seeing strikers open up their bodies and curl shots into the corner, but Vardy likes to drive past people with that tremendous pace. Lots of players don’t want to get close to goalkeepers because they are so agile but Vardy zips past and then finishes.

Defensively too he injects fear into defenders because they know he’s coming to get them. He skims across the surface and is like Ian Rush in the way he hassles and harries but also scores goals. He’s been terrific to watch.

Here comes the first question…



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