Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s recent comments on Sky Sports about how we need to add four players to our squad might have been harsh, but were they true?
The ex-Arsenal striker made some pretty scathing comments towards Arsenal this weekend following our 0-0 draw against Chelsea. The most prominent of which being that we need to sign new players in four key areas, to strengthen our ‘spine’: a goalkeeper, centreback, holding midfielder and striker.
Was he right?
I do agree with him in some aspects but not in others.
A pair of safe hands
The first area Henry thinks we need to strengthen is in goal.
David Ospina has an excellent record. Fantastic in fact; he has the best win percentage of any player in the Premier League. He’s kept seven clean sheets in 13 appearances; to put this into perspective, Manchester United’s David De Gea has kept 10 clean sheets in 34 appearances and made the PFA Team of the Year.
However, Ospina hasn’t had to endure too much pressure in his short time with us.
It also looks as if Wojciech Szczesny may start to get impatient sitting on the bench. The Pole is now 25-years-old and will therefore be looking to cement himself in a team in the near future – something he probably thought he’d already done with Arsenal before that Southampton game.
If he doesn’t move on or Arsene Wenger doesn’t sell him (which looks like a real possibility) soon, it looks like he will in the near future he doesn’t get more playing time. Therefore, I do think adding a world class goalkeeper would be a huge statement of intent.
I’m not sure how legitimate reports are that we’ll sign Petr Cech – I honestly don’t see Chelsea selling to us – but if the opportunity is there, I think we should take it.
This is one position where I do agree we need reinforcement.
I know rightback Calum Chambers has expressed that he wants to play there some day, but that day isn’t likely to be anytime soon and with Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel our only recognised centrebacks, we definitely need to bring other defensive players in during the summer transfer window.
We’ve been linked to Dynamo Kiev centreback, Aleksandar Dragovic, who has been getting positive reviews this season and, after selling Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona last summer, I think making a move for him would be sensible.
The search for a holding midfielder
Francis Coquelin has been immense for us since he came back off loan and, unless he starts channelling his inner Mathieu Flamini, I don’t see him being dropped from the first team any time soon.
However, if he gets injured, we only have Flamini on the bench and he’s out of contract in the summer.
Potentially we Wilshere on or Aaron Ramsey could fill in but, in the case of the latter especially, he’s far more useful to us up the pitch. This is one of the reasons I believe there’s at least some logic behind the Morgan Schneiderlin rumours; he’s a player we genuinely could use.
Although I know no one wants to step on Coq’s toes, having a backup who’s used to the fast pace and physicality of the Premier League can’t hurt.
A ‘top, top’ striker
This is probably the part of Henry’s rant I disagree with most.
The Sky Sports pundit explained that although Giroud could ‘do a job’, we simply couldn’t win the league with him up front.
Giroud is far from a bad striker. In fact, after coming back from a broken leg and netting 17 goals in all competitions, I’d even call him prolific this season. There aren’t many players with a goal-to-minutes ratio as good as his and, therefore, I wonder what Henry categorises as world class.
While at the beginning of the season I would’ve jumped at the chance to sign a player of Sergio Aguero’s calibre, I’m now more than happy with our Frenchman in front of goal.
It’s also important to add that we have a few forwards out on loan and, although I’m not saying we put all our eggs in a Yaya Sanogo-shaped basket, we’re hardly short of options. Especially with the likes of Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and potentially Alexis Sanchez ready to step in at a moment’s notice.
Giroud’s record speaks for itself. He may indeed be no Thierry Henry but he’s who we have now and he’s a bloomin’ good striker. Getting someone ‘world class’ to sidestep him and push him out of the team seems like a huge step backwards and not at all what Arsene Wenger is about. The manager has shown a huge amount of faith in the forward thus far and I don’t see him undermining that just for the sake of spending money and appeasing his critics.
I realise that Henry is untouchable in the eyes of many Arsenal fans and that disagreeing with his comments may verge on some sort of sacrilege, but I also think it’s important to view his opinion in the same way we view most pundits and realise that he’s no longer part of the team we support.
Do I respect him? Of course I do.
Does he perhaps know better than me? Sure.
However, I also recognise he’s no longer Thierry Henry the Invincible that led us to titles and trophies and other delicious things; he’s Thierry Henry Sky Sports pundit.
In other words: thanks for the advice Henry – you make some good points – but no thanks.