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newsexclusive chris sutton interview

Exclusive Chris Sutton Interview: Arteta’s acted like a clown on touchline this season; Robbie Savage is pundit that speaks most nonsense; It’s time for Ziyech to leave Chelsea & maybe Pulisic

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Speaking exclusively to Betting Sites, Chris Sutton has provided his take on Arteta & Arsenal, who should leave Chelsea this summer & reveals which pundit talks the most nonsense.

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Interview highlights:

  • Arteta’s acted like a clown on touchline this season, “it’s an act”
  • Robbie Savage is pundit that speaks most nonsense
  • Chelsea isn’t the right fit for Lukaku “He can’t” wear the shirt again
  • It’s time for Ziyech to leave Chelsea & maybe Pulisic
  • Maddison needs to leave Leicester to find success, Newcastle might take him
  • Harry Kane needs to leave Spurs & win trophies

Full Transcript

Question: Chelsea reportedly paid Brighton a world record compensation fee of £21.5m for Potter. Have they had their pants pulled down?

Chris Sutton: “No, not at all. I think Graham Potter deserved the opportunity to manage up. If you look at his whole managerial career, he’s worked his way up through the ranks. He had success at Ostersunds and Swansea, he did good jobs at both those clubs. Then he went into Brighton and really improved Brighton as a team. They were good to watch and very easy on the eye. I get why Chelsea brought him in. It’s been a bit of a topsy-turvy start. He actually started quite well and then went on a horrendous run but I think there are other issues at the club. I do think that they are right to stick with Graham Potter and persist with him.”

Q: Do you think he’s got what it takes to bring the Premier League title to Chelsea?

CS: “I think, with the investment which Chelsea have had, it’s about gelling all the players together. It wouldn’t be a total shock to me if he did so in time and it looks as though he will be given time. We know under previous owners he probably would have had the sack by now, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But patience is a good thing. Remember what Antonio Conte did at the club. I think Chelsea were in tenth position when he took over and then won the title. I’m not going to say it’s going to happen under Graham Potter. I don’t think it will, partly because of the strength of Manchester City and also Arsenal are a really formidable young team. But I think Graham probably will dramatically improve Chelsea next season.”

Q: How crucial are Reece James and Ben Chilwell to Potter’s tactical philosophy?

CS: “Yeah, they’re absolutely massive for the way that Graham Potter likes to play. I think Chillwell especially gives them great balance on that left hand side. Reece James is a top player as well and it’s good for England to have them too. It’s really important for Chelsea if they do really want to kick on and have a strong end of the season, then those players need to be fit and stay fit. Chelsea are far better off with those two players in the team.”

Q: Do you think Chelsea regret showing such little faith in Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi?

CS: “I don’t think they really care about that, or would think like that. I think from the outside, people within the media looking at Chelsea would have raised eyebrows about letting the likes of Tomori go, especially when you see him doing really well at Milan. Tammy Abraham, that’s a really interesting one to me Abraham, because the criticism of Chelsea is that they don’t have a proper centre forward, an out-and-out number 9. Tammy Abraham is exactly that and they decided to let him go. That was a bit of a strange one, but of course they expected Lukaku to come in and have a stormer which he didn’t do. That’s not Kai Havertz’s favourite position. Playing as a number 9 is a makeshift. So you know it’s an interesting one the Abraham situation.”

Q: Chelsea can buy Abraham back from Roma for £68 million this summer. Should they?

CS: “Oh, blimey, you’ve put me on the spot there! Abraham back to Chelsea. Yeah, I mean, it’s one of those that I could see happening. I think he’s done pretty well at Roma. The question is, do Chelsea need any more bodies in the door? Their squad is top heavy anyway but the criticism of Chelsea is that while they have lots of creative players, they don’t actually have somebody to stick the ball in the net. So I actually think that’d be a smart piece of business to bring Tammy Abraham back.”

Q: Romelu Lukaku still has 3 years left on his contract. Will we ever see him or in a Chelsea shirt again?

CS: “He can’t. He can’t. That’s twice Lukaku’s been there now and sometimes it just feels a club isn’t the right fit for a player. I don’t think he’d want to come back in truth. Look, I might be wrong, but I don’t think I am on this one.”

Q: What about Aubameyang? Is there any hope of him getting his Chelsea career back on track?

CS: “With Aubameyang it was sort of unfortunate for him the way Tuchel left as soon as he was signed. But his attitude at Arsenal was really poor in the end, and then he slunk off to Barcelona before coming in at Chelsea. I’m not so sure it was ever going to work and now it seems like he’s been totally frozen out by Graham Potter. There’s an inevitable end going to happen there.”

Q: Can trimming Chelsea’s squad help to improve harmony within the group and if so who should the club be looking to ship out?

CS: “With regards to creating harmony within a football team, the results help and winning helps. That’s the biggest thing. Normally when results go badly, everybody blames each other. That’s the way I always worked when I played. But in terms of players who Chelsea are going to let go, I think Ziyech is one. There’s an inevitability about him leaving the club. Really talented player and I’m sorry for him it hasn’t worked out. Pulisic is an interesting one. He’s on the periphery, but do you know what? At this moment in time I don’t necessarily think that Potter will have any hard and fast rules. I think he’ll be looking to the end of the season, and if players have a strong end of the season, then he’ll make that decision.”

Q: Who should be Chelsea’s next captain once Cesar Azpilicueta moves on?

CS: “Yeah, that’ll be an interesting one. If Azpilicueta sees out his last year, which is I think probably unlikely. Being the type of guy… Yes, I know he loves Chelsea but he will want to play games so he might well be off. That’s an interesting one, really, you know, who would step into the captain’s role? I mean, the obvious choice is Thiago Silva, isn’t it? If he’s fit that is. He’s been an absolute warrior throughout his career, so I suspect that he would get the armband.”

Q: Celtic have had 7 penalties awarded against them in the SPL this season while Rangers last conceded one over a year ago (438 days). Isn’t that a bit fishy? 

CS: “Hahaha! What are you trying to say? It is a big discrepancy if those numbers are correct. They’ve had VAR up in Scotland start halfway through the season, which is absolute madness. I mean an observation of mine over the years is that…and I don’t know this, but I suspect that Rangers have been awarded far more penalties than Celtic over the years. I mean, that’s a really interesting stat. We’ll have to put that to the people of Glasgow.”

Q: What’s your prediction for the upcoming Old Firm?

CS: “I think it’s one that Rangers absolutely have to win but it’s a shambles the fact that no away fans will be allowed into that game. For the profile of Scottish football I think it’s awful because they are two giant clubs, and going back to when I played, Celtic used to take 6 or 7,000 away fans to Ibrox and vice versa. It makes for a better spectacle. It’s watched around the world, this game, and I don’t like that. 

“In terms of the result I think it’ll be quite close, because Rangers have to go with the attitude that there’s a nine point gap in the league and Celtic have a far superior goal difference. Rangers have to win the game and that means they have to open up. Are they going to be brave enough to do that? They have to because it forces their hands that they know what they have to do. I know the cup final was only 2-1 but Celtic were far superior. The pressure’s really on Michael Beale in this one but I think Celtic home, we’ll narrowly win this one. I think it’ll be a close game, though.”

Q: Ange Postecoglou has been linked with the Spurs managerial job. Has he got what it takes to succeed in the Premier League?

CS: “Do you think he hasn’t got what it takes? Of course he has what it takes to make it in the Premier League. You only need to scratch beneath the surface to look at this guy’s managerial record. It’s what, 25, 26 years he’s been coaching and managing. And what’s he achieved? I’ll tell you what is achieved. Every club he’s been at he’s been a success. He’s a builder of teams. He’s a builder of clubs. He’s gone into Celtic and didn’t need to bring staff with him because he’s self-sufficient. He believes in himself. People always forget… I always bring people back to Ange’s start. All the talk was about Eddie Howe coming in. Ange Postecoglou then gets the job and he was late in terms of coming in and recruitment, and he was behind so he had to play kids at centre half in his first Champions League game against FC Midtjylland. 

“Things didn’t work out instantly and he lost 3 of the first 6 games as Celtic manager. But you know he has been a revelation since. His recruitment has been first class and the style of play. Celtic are a really good watch. They’re they’re very attacking team over the invert with the full backs and he has transformed the team and transformed Scottish football in many respects. So you know, if you’re asking me, could he manage in the Premier League? He could manage in any league in the world. I have absolutely no doubt about that.”

Q: Kieran Tierney isn’t seeing much action at Arsenal, should Celtic attempt to bring him back to Parkhead on loan?

CS: ”No, that’s not going to happen. I love Kieran Tierney as a player and have total admiration for him. I feel for him at Arsenal because it’s not the fact that Mikel Arteta doesn’t rate him. I think he does but Zinchenko has come in and been really first-class, and Arteta likes Zinchecnko coming into that midfield area. He’s more at ease with that than Kieren Tierney is. But just the whole financial aspect. I can’t see it. I just can’t see that happening. He’s not going back to Celtic on loan now, maybe in years to come but certainly not not at this moment in time.”

Q: Who do you fancy for Player of the Year up in Scotland?

CS: “Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate. I love watching him, I really do. His appetite for the game and the way it takes the ball and the way he manoeuvres the ball is top class. He will eventually end up down in the premier league. I’ve got no doubt about that, and I love his willingness to learn and develop, but I’ve been super impressed with him. 

“Second would be Kyogo Furuhashi, the Celtic centre forward. Ally McCoist keeps writing this guy off and questioning whether he could play in the Premier League. He is another guy that’s very humble. He says he’s not the finished article and says he’s 28 years old and still has a lot of improvements to make. I love that. When do you hear Footballers talk like that? And his movement is, you know, really first class.”

Q: Mason Mount reportedly wants a new contract worth £240k per week. Is that pie in the sky based on his performances this season?

CS: “I think he’s changed his agent. I might not be 100% right but that’s what I heard and he may have had his head turned. It’s a really interesting one because he’s a Chelsea boy who has come up through the ranks. He loves the club, but something clearly is amiss in terms of, you know, in terms of the money which is asking for. He would have looked around and seen what other players are getting, and thought ‘Well, you know what I’m as good as them, if not better than them, and you know I want parity with my wages.’ So I sort of understand the way he’s feeling in that respect, but something isn’t right.

“And I’m sure he has had offers elsewhere. But it’s not a good look for him or Chelsea. The fact that there’s probably a deal to be done but for some reason that deal isn’t getting over the line, which leads us to to think that you know he’ll probably be on his way somewhere. And the new agent thing, it’s always odd when players change agents. They do that for a reason, so it’ll be interesting. Chelsea will have to make him one hell of an offer otherwise it looks like he’ll be off elsewhere.”

Q: Should Chelsea shell out £100m to sign Joao Felix on a permanent basis?

CS: “I’ve sort of become lost with financial fair play and how it works. I mean Chelsea might put him on a 15 year contract (laughs). They have been banking out these lengthy contracts as a kind of loophole it seems. They’ve done it with Mudryk and Badiashile recently. But I suspect the fact that Felix has made an impact, a noticeable impact… if they can get that deal done, then that would be common sense really, even at that price.”

Q: Is there going to be a bidding war for Declan Rice this summer? Where will he end up?

CS: “Oh, I think so. His club form may have suffered a little bit this season partly due to all the speculation. He’s still a really important player for West Ham. But there’s no doubt he will want away from West ham because he will want to challenge for the big trophies. That’s not to say West Ham can’t win a cup. There’s a good chance of them winning the Europa Conference League. I suspect that’d be a massive disappointment if they didn’t get over the line in that competition. But it is time for Rice to move on. I don’t think any West Ham fans will begrudge him for that, albeit some might be angry when he does leave. 

“So it will be interesting where he turns up. LiverpooI’s midfield is a big problem area for them. Arsenal, again, really interesting. Thomas Partey and Jorginho are in that position. Is Declan Rice an upgrade? I think he’s certainly slightly different to Jorginho. Manchester United? Who knows what’s going on there? The move which makes sense at this moment in time is Liverpool but ironically I’ve actually never seen him linked with Liverpool. Klopp’s been very loyal to the likes of Milner and Henderson but they need the wholesale changes. But unless Liverpool get in that Champions League spot then he may not want to go there anyway.”

Q: Will Harry Kane ever leave Tottenham or is he destined to be a modern day Matt Le Tissier?

CS: “Harry’s one of their own, isn’t he? Except he wanted to clear off to Manchester City the other year. But look truthfully if he’s got any real, genuine ambition of winning a trophy that he has to leave. It’s as simple as that. It’s okay breaking all the personal accolades, I take my hat off to him for that because he’s a brilliant centre forward. He’s not just a goal scorer, he’s an excellent footballer, but there must come a time in his career where he’s thinking ‘I’m winning player of the year every season, I’m the Golden Boot winner and England’s all time leading scorer’ etc. That’s brilliant, but you know you want to have that feeling of actually winning something. And the chances are he’s not going to get that at Tottenham. So yeah, eventually, it will be too late then to move. So you know if I was him I’d leave and I think most players I’ve played with would say the same thing. But you know I do get the loyalty angle as well. But you go into your career to win team trophies.”

Q: Do you think Mauricio Pochettino the Spurs fans’ No.1 choice to replace Conte now he’s gone?

CS: “I don’t know whether there’d be a split in the fan base or not really. Pochettino was much loved in the fact that he got them to the Champions League final, and improved the team. He gets the club, he gets the brand of football which was Conte’s downfall really because he didn’t. Really, I think a lot of Spurs fans would like him back. But Nagelsmann has now lost his job at Bayern Munich and everything I’ve read suggests he’s making a play for the job. So it’s Stellini in charge to the end of the season with Ryan Mason, but that’s just to stopgap. It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody did come in before the end of the season if Daniel Levy can crack a deal. But it’ll be interesting whether Pochettino is the one to come back. I’m not so sure they’ll go down that route, which probably means, which probably means he’ll be the next manager.”

Q: Which pundit that you work with talks the most nonsense?

CS: “Robbie Savage. Most of what comes out of Robbie Robbie’s most doesn’t make sense. No but Robbie is a good guy and I love working with him on 606. We often have opposing views, which clearly makes my views right (laughs).

Q: What are your thoughts on Simon Jordan and his talkSPORT show.

CS: “Do you know what? I don’t listen to talkSPORT. I’m a loyal 5 Live guy, but I’m aware of it and I’ve seen some of the clips. He’s a smart guy. He loves his spats, doesn’t he? You know. He speaks very well, he’s clearly well prepped and well educated. But I don’t listen to talk so much.

Q: At the start of the season you predicted Manchester City to win the Premier League and Arsenal would finish outside the top 4. How surprised are you by how wrong you’ve been proven?

CS: “Oh, wow! I mean even Arsenal fans will have been surprised by this. Just remember, a lot of these arsenal fans wanted Arteta out not too long ago! They all deny it. We talked about Graham Potter earlier and Arteta shows the importance of actually earmarking your manager and sticking with the guy and now they’re coming to the fore. I think they’ve been brilliant. Like everybody else throughout the season, I kept thinking, well, they’re going to have a big blip but that hasn’t happened. When they look at Manchester City at home. My prediction, I think, was with Manchester City to win the Premier League and when they lost the city at home. I think you know the City will rein them in and they’ll have a wobble. But that once again hasn’t happened. 

“I love what Arteta is doing. I love the bravery of the young players. Saka especially, Is there a better right winger in the world at the moment? I really don’t think so. He’s 21. Martinelli is flying. I was worried when Gabriel Jesus got injured. He’s now coming back and he’s massive for them. They’re in front but there’s a long way to go, and you know there may still be this wobble. But what a job Arteta has done!”

Q: Mikel Arteta has been accused of acting like a clown on the touchline this season. Do you think he’s calmed down in recent weeks?

CS: “There’s no doubt Arteta has acted like a clown in the technical area at times, and the punters love all that stuff. They do love it. They love seeing the manager jumping up and around and animated, and in the fourth official’s face. I don’t and I think it’s a bit of an act at times. He’ll say something different but the most important thing is what he’s saying in the sanctuary of the dressing room. And clearly the messages are getting across and the work he’s doing on the training ground is really working with this Arsenal team. But as you know all that jumping around isn’t necessary for me.”

Q: Who do you fancy for PFA Player of the Year? Is Saka good value at 8/1 or is Haaland nailed on?

CS: “I would be shocked if everybody didn’t vote for Haaland but I get the Saka and Odegaard hype. I certainly get that. I think they’ll be second and third. Odegaard is so important for Arsenal. So important that I forgot to mention him previously! He’s the link man, he keeps things ticking in that final third. But you can’t look past Haaland. The guy is a freak in the nicest possible way. You can’t come into the Premier League, you know the biggest and the best league in the world, and you know he’s made it look so easy. I mean, how many hat tricks has he scored? I mean, it’s ridiculous.”

Q: Is Erik ten Hag correct about Arsenal being lucky with injuries or is he just jealous?

CS: “That could well be a bit of sour grapes maybe from Ten Hag yeah. I don’t think that you can say Arsenal have been lucky with injuries. The players have obviously been doing the right things and working hard. They’ll be doing stuff pre-training to make sure they’re conditioned and ready to play. And then warming down correctly after games. That’s not to say Manchester United players aren’t doing the same things but in some seasons you get more injuries than other seasons. But you know, as a consequence of Arsenal having that continuity while they’re doing so well. Ten Hag has done well but he’s probably jealous to be looking and seeing Arsenal just miles ahead of them at the minute.”

Q: If Arsenal do go on to become Champions, will it be second only to Leicester’s title win in terms of least expected Premier League winners?

CS: “What about Blackburn Rovers?! You probably weren’t born then [laughs]. It’s not going to beat Leicester, is it? But nobody gave them a chance of winning the title this season. I mean, it’s an incredible story. You always go back to the late nineties with that brilliant team. The 97/98 team was unbelievable. And then you had the Invincibles, and then also had all these years of hurt. And those supporters were moaning and grumbling ‘how are we going to get back to that level again.’ So to be where they are at this moment. So I mean, it would be an incredible Premier League achievement, one of the greatest ever but not quite Leicester.”

Q: Is James Maddison undroppable for England after his performance against Ukraine?

CS: “Yeah, I love James Maddison and not only due to his links to Norwich City. He started off at Norwich, actually went up to Aberdeen on loan but he’s done very good things at Leicester. There were always seemingly issues between Southgate and Maddison. Whether it was an attitude thing, and you know they had that as a few rumblings on the way. I think he didn’t turn up, or he was in a casino one evening when he said he was injured, something like that. But there’s no doubting his talent as a player. He’s a brilliant player, and I think many people, myself included, think he should have got the opportunity to start long before now. What he has done is knuckled down and trained well, and I think he’s going to be hard to oust from the team. I think he’s a little bit different from Grealish. He’s not such a dribbler, but I think in terms of impact he’s probably got more in his locker.”

Q: Do you think he might be looking to get a move away from Leicester this summer? 

CS: “Well, if you’re him, what would you do? He’s been heavily linked with Newcastle, hasn’t he, James Maddison. And with respect to Leicester, I can’t see them challenging for a title. That’s not going to happen. It’s a bit like the Harry Kane situation. If you’re really ambitious and you have the opportunity, why wouldn’t you go and play for a top club?”

Liam Solomon
Liam Solomon
Liam Solomon

Liam is the Head of Sports PR for Betting Sites. He has over 10 years experience in Digital Marketing & PR, working in TV & Entertainment, Fashion, Technology, Sports & Betting. An avid Arsenal supporter, Liam keeps up to date with all things Football but loves everything Sports related. A number of Liam's Betting Sites interview & data stories have been covered on news sites including; The Sun, Daily Mail, Express, Mirror & Sportsbible.