Mikael Silvestre: Arsenal will win the title and Manchester United will finish second

Former United and Gunners defender backs his old clubs to trump City, Chelsea and Liverpool

Portland Timbers defender Mikael Silvestre thinks Manchester United can still finish second and that Arsenal will win the title, he told Sky Sports News.

The Frenchman, who spent nine years at Old Trafford before a two-year stint at the Emirates Stadium, was asked what he thinks the top four will be at the end of the season and in which order.

He replied: “I would just knock out Liverpool and put United in there. I would put Arsenal, United, City and Chelsea.”

He was, however, realistic about the challenges that face David Moyes’ side, especially in this Sunday’s clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The 36-year-old said: “You can’t really read too much into [the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in August]. It’s been a long time since and times have moved on. Teams have made progress, steps up, steps down especially for United. So it’s a complete different atmosphere, different type of game.

“After the Swansea second-half performance I would hope the team get enough confidence to grab a positive result at Stamford Bridge.”

Silvestre, who won five Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup and one League cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, understands the challenges facing Moyes this season.

He explained: “It’s always going to be difficult. There’s a lot of pressure on the new management and you have to deal with it and Sunday’s game is a good opportunity to show you’ve got the character to come back.

“Obviously Chelsea’s the type of game you don’t need to get extra motivation, it comes naturally. It’s a big occasion.

“Top players will rise to the occasion and get a better performance, everyone will give a little extra so you should see a better performance.”

The ex-France international, who won the last of his 40 caps in 2006, is unsure whether Moyes will be able to strengthen his squad this month.

He said: “Well you have some old players out of contract at the end of the season but January is a tough market to get the players you really want. For me it’s not the ideal moment to sign players. For David Moyes he will look to the end of the season to make changes.

“I think there is enough quality in this squad to reach the Champions League.”

Silvestre also questioned whether a new signing would make much difference, adding: “It is a big task for the guy coming in to get up to speed very quickly to make an impact as soon as he comes in, and January until May is not a long time to perform and add something.

“It’s fair enough to say that reaching the top four is still available for Moyes and United this season. It’s key really, to keep the top players who want to play Champions League, that’s always the aim and to attract players to United it’s really important.”

Silvestre’s other former Premier League club, Arsenal, are enjoying a much better season than United and remain top of the table.

The defender believes they can win their first title since 2004 this year and he said: “It’s a mixture of them doing really well and keeping players together for a certain amount of time. Bringing Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, bringing [Santi] Cazorla and then Mesut Ozil this season so you have a lot of talent in there going forward, it’s a big threat when they are on the ball.

“Then other teams like United not doing so well, City with the changing of management, Chelsea also. So I think it could be the year for Arsenal, definitely.”

He also is unsure whether Arsene Wenger needs to add to his squad this month.

He added: “I think they could carry on with the same squad, it all depends if they have the mental strength on the long run.

“It’s been the case in the past where the team collapsed, I remember one season at Birmingham City when Eduardo got injured and the results didn’t follow but this year hopefully they can do it.”

As one of only two players, alongside Robin van Persie, to play in the Premier League under both Wenger and Ferguson, Silvestre was asked to compare the two.

He said: “Sir Alex was very close to his players, he would talk to you about anything, about his childhood, about the last result in France.

“He would stop training and talk to me about what Marseille against Bordeaux did at the weekend, so that was quite fun!”

Regarding his former manager at Arsenal, he explained: “He’s really clever, takes time to analyse the games and the way he talks to players is very calm and down to earth, he comes from a part of France where people are really calm and down to earth.

“He’s got that, and he’s got the same as Sir Alex, he’s got that passion and technically he is very capable of dealing with young players and bringing them through the ranks.”

image: © Benjamin Radzun

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