Why Arsenal should move for Spurs goalkeeper and bring back Van Persie from Manchester United
PUBLISHED: 12:50 11 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:50 11 June 2015
"Arsenal need a goalkeeper, a centre back, a holding midfielder and, I'm afraid, a top-quality striker in order to win this league again." - Thierry Henry, April 2015.
Jem Maidment concurs… well, sort of. This is what he believes Arsenal need next season.
A GOOD START
Whichever way you slice it, Arsenal’s downfall can be traced back to the first eight games of last season. Two wins was awful. There can be no excuses next season after third place ensured no need for two silly August Champions League qualifiers. The squad’s the strongest in years. Hit the ground running – or it’s more of the same. Arsenal fans are a little tired of being sold the future…
A GREAT NO 1
Arsenal was once a byword for quality goalkeeping; witness Kelsey, Wilson, Jennings, Seaman, Lehmann…
Not anymore. Bob Wilson told this newspaper last month David Ospina was not the answer. Wojciech Szczesny remains too immature. Petr Cech is the stand-out choice of available goalkeepers, or maybe Stoke’s Asmir Begovic.
But the answer may not be so far away; Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris wants Champions League football. Could he ‘do a Jennings’ and cross the great north London divide?
STICK IN THE MIDDLE
Francis Coquelin has had a phenomenal 2015 so far. His performance in the 2-0 win at Manchester City was as unexpected as it was outstanding. But a few weeks earlier the Frenchman was struggling to get a game at Charlton. Maybe there’s a reason for that.
Strength and discipline is still required in the engine room. The days of Gilberto, and even Kevin Richardson, are long gone. Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin would improve stability. Sami Khedira would have given Arsenal more steel – until this week’s move to Juve. A (quality) reinforcement to cover that back four remains a must.
A SHARPER POINT
Diego Costa won Chelsea the title. Arsenal need the same. The Zlatan Ibrahimovic-to-Arsenal story is gathering pace in some quarters – yes please with bells on. Olivier Giroud – God love him – has done little wrong, but we need better. Theo Walcott fancies centre forward. Wenger doesn’t. Danny Welbeck remains too crocked.
But another Manchester United connection … whisper it, Robin van Persie has unfinished business and has agitated to ‘come home’ in the past. He’d be a great back-up, at least…
The second FA Cup win – and their league form since January – proves Arsenal are a club going in the right direction. But do the players really believe they can win the league? Despite the financial doping of Manchester City and Chelsea, Arsenal have the wealth and momentum to compete.
A lot of players talk a good game but the proof is on the pitch. Third place or not, more must show a desire and belief to win the big one. A meaningful three points over Chelsea is a pre-requisite. Time will tell.
THE USUAL ‘DEADWOOD’ MOAN
A list – in no particular order – of players treading water, taking up valuable wages, not good enough, perennially injured. All of whom should really make new arrangements: Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Welbeck (harsh but, I think, fair), Lukas Podolski… and releasing Abou Diaby represents a start, anyway.
ONES TO WATCH NEXT SEASON
Alexis Sanchez – Second season syndrome? No chance. The ex-Barca attacker was Arsenal’s stand-out performer with 25 goals; £33m very well spent. What self-respecting north London schoolboy doesn’t have ’ALEXIS 17’ on his back? The only concern is the Copa America, which could drain him early season. That aside, expect more of the swashbuckling same …
Jack Wilshere – potentially pivotal season for the potty-mouthed Englishman. With injuries (hopefully) behind him, he knows consistency is his biggest goal.
Gabriel – we didn’t see much of the wiry centre half following his January arrival from Villarreal, but he’s primed to challenge wobbling Per Mertesacker’s place. Strong, aggressive and covers the ground well, a fans’ favourite in the making.
Hector Bellerin – the fleet-footed Spaniard has blossomed into a powerful, all-running full back, miserly in defence and devastating in attack. Outstanding first season – and a full cap for Spain is surely inevitable.