Arsenal are pretty close to the title if you ask most people, maybe just lacking a midfielder or a striker before being completely able to launch a title challenge.
Paul Merson disagrees. The former Arsenal player spoke to ArsenalFan TV and expressed his concern about the current squad, who are expected to be closer to Chelsea and Manchester City this season.
“It’s short, very short,” Merson surprisingly declared in the interview. “In my opinion they need a holding midfield player.”
Francis Coquelin has claimed that role in the side but some questions still remain over his ability and his temperament. Last weekend’s win over Crystal Palace saw Arsène Wenger sub the midfielder has he, already on a booking, was in danger of being sent off.
Mikel Arteta went on a little after Coquelin was subbed but the Arsenal captain’s legs can’t be trusted to see him through the entire season after he missed over six months of the 2014/15 campaign.
“Coquelin was very lucky to stay on the pitch the other day,” Merson said. “If he goes off Arsenal lose that game. Before you know it they’re zero (wins) and two (losses), that’s not going to win you anything and you play Liverpool on Monday night in a must win football match and we’re still in August.”
Defensively the Gunners seem to be set with Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Calum Chambers all vying for spots at centre-half, but Merson doesn’t feel comfortable.
Meanwhile the former Arsenal man would like another striker; someone like Karim Benzema, who the Gunners have been linked with all summer, would be ideal.
“At the back I think we’re still a little bit ropey,” said the Sky Sports pundit, who managed 99 goals during his time at Arsenal.
“I do like Giroud but I think when you’re Arsenal and going to another level – they’re going into the Champions League to win it – so if you can get a Benzema, you know, the team sheet comes in, Benzema’s up front and you can’t tell me the two centre-halves aren’t going ot be thinking ‘Benzema who was at Real Madrid!’
“I think they need a centre-half, a centre-midfield player and a centre-forward.”
It seems harsh to say Wenger needs another defender with the options at his disposal, but the other two are fair comments. Arsenal may not necessarily need a striker but it is an area where improvement could be made.
Unfortunately that’s only possible if a striker better than Giroud is available and affordable, and that seems unlikely this transfer window.