Exclusive: Arsenal must buy again before they can really challenge Chelsea, warns Gunners legend

Arsenal captain Frank McLintock (left) and manager Bertie Mee with the League Championship trophy in

Arsenal captain Frank McLintock (left) and manager Bertie Mee with the League Championship trophy in 1971 - Credit: Archant

Arsenal legend Frank McLintock says the opening day-defeat to West Ham was a “reality check” – and has urged Arsene Wenger to buy.

The Double-winning skipper feels the Gunners have improved over the past two years – as evidenced by successive FA Cup wins – and now believe they are poised for a meaningful title challenge.

But he warns the squad still needs improving before they can really push champions Chelsea and their nearest contenders, Manchester City.

“Maybe we needed Sunday’s result just to give some of the squad a reality check, because that is what it was – a wake-up call just to remind us how hard this league is,” said McLintock.

“We were not at our best at a time when we really needed to start with three points – especially with Chelsea dropping two home points the previous day.

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“It is only early days, granted, but every point matters in this league and to lose three – at home – on the first day of the season was not what we wanted.

“It happened a couple of years back when Aston Villa beat us at home in the first game of the season – we then went on a long unbeaten run. We need to do the same again.”

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And 75-year-old McLintock, who made 403 appearances for the Gunners between 1964 and 1973, leading his side to the Fairs Cup, FA Cup and league title, says more stability in the middle is vital if Arsenal are to win their first Premier League title in 12 years.

“We need another central midfielder if we are to keep our stability in the middle,” added the Scotsman.

“Francis Coquelin has done very well over the past season and a half – in fact, he has come in from nowhere and has been absolutely terrific – but if he gets injured any time we have a big problem.

“There is nobody like him to come in and offer the kind of cover we would need. When he played like he did in the 2-0 win at Manchester City last season we saw the importance of a strong, disciplined, defensive midfielder sat in the middle.

“He covers the defence, breaks up attacks and gives the ball to people who can play. We need another similar player because if he does get injured at any time, who would go in and do the same job?

“We have a magnificent set of midfield players, but we still need another defensive-minded one in that squad.”

And McLintock would also like to see another centre-forward brought in, explaining: “Olivier Giroud has done a very good job over the past couple of seasons, but he plays with his back to goal.

“I still think we need strikers who can really get in behind the defence and stretch them. We have Theo Walcott, but he plays out wide too. If we could get someone in who can come short and also run behind defences, that would be perfect.

“In short, another Thierry Henry would not go amiss.”

But McLintock is still adamant Arsenal have what it takes to improve on their third-place finish from last season.

“The squad is improving and so are the results,” he said. “We are in our strongest position for quite a few years, although I do believe we should have been challenging for the title sooner than now.

“These are exciting times for Arsenal fans – they could be even more surprising if we can do some more business before the transfer window slams shut.”

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