Disagreeing with Thierry Henry on what Arsenal needs to win the Premiership

Disagreeing with Thierry Henry on what Arsenal needs to win the Premiership
(L-R) Sky Sports commentators Jamie Redknapp, Thierry Henry and Jamie Carragher talk prior to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 18, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Following Sunday's 0-0 draw between Arsenal and Chelsea that all but secured the Premier League title for the Blues, Gunners legend Thierry Henry offered this analysis of his former club.

"Arsenal need to buy four players," Henry said on Sky Sports' "Super Sunday" program. "[Arsenal] need that spine. They need a goalkeeper, they still need a center back, they still need a holding midfielder and, I'm afraid, they need a top, top-quality striker in order to win this league again."
Perhaps still feeling emotional from the disappointing result at the Emirates or intending to start controversy as a well-paid pundit, Henry made those critical comments of Arsenal. And they carried some weight because of the 37-year-old's status and history with the club.

"The best example for me today was Chelsea," Henry said. "They struggled last year and they were still competing to win the league. They now have [Thibaut] Courtois, [Nemanja] Matic, Cesc
Added Henry of making squad upgrades last summer: "A team didn't and a team did, and Chelsea [is] about to win the league."

Only, the former Arsenal great appears to be forgetting that the Gunners did actually go out and fill the squad in each of the areas he pinpointed.

Starting at the back, Wenger brought in goalkeeper David Ospina after the Colombian featured favorably in the 2014 World Cup. While Ospina began the season on the bench, he has firmly cemented his place in the lineup after allowing only seven goals in 13 Premier League starts. Ospina's rate of registering 2.62 saves per game while allowing only 0.54 goals per match is actually markedly better than Courtois' 2.34 saves per game and 0.90 goals conceded per match.

Arsenal does not need to buy a new goal keeper, and Wojciech Szczesny is good enough to be the Gunners' second option between the pipes.

In the middle of the defense, Per Mertesacker takes a great deal of stick for lumbering at a slow pace. When the German giant is isolated, the Gunners do tend to struggle, but the pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Mertesacker has provided more positive results than anything else over the past two seasons. When healthy, the duo works well together.

Arsenal could buy a new central defender, but Wenger did purchase Calum Chambers from Southampton last summer. The hope is to develop the 20-year-old into a central defender that can anchor the back line for the next decade. Also, the Gunners bought Brazilian Gabriel Paulista to play at the heart of the defense, but the center back has yet to make his presence felt at the Emirates. Next season should offer both Paulista and Chambers more opportunities.

A top-class center half would help Arsenal, but only Chelsea and Southampton have conceded fewer Premier League goals than the Gunners this campaign.
Moving onto the midfield, Wenger recalled Francis Coquelin from loan duty in December. Since earning regular time, the 23-year-old has played deep in the midfield better than most every other defensive midfielder Arsenal has lined up in recent memory. Similar to Courtois returning from loan to immediately help Chelsea, Coquelin came back ready to contribute. He may not be as physically imposing as Matic in Chelsea's midfield, but the Gunners' preference for developing youth over buying finished products is not the wrong approach.

With the oft-injured trio of Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere and MIkel Arteta providing backup, Coquelin is the right man for Arsenal's holding midfielder role. Had he started the season with the Gunners, they may have put forth a stronger title challenge.

Slightly forward in the midfield, Santi Cazorla has been the Gunners' player of the season after adopting a deeper role than seasons past. The Spaniard's quality would be foolish to question considering his performance on the pitch this season. With the aforementioned trio of midfielders available to back up the Spaniard and Wales captain Aaron Ramsey also able to play the position, Arsenal has quality and depth in the middle of the park.

In the attacking section of the midfield, the Gunners have, frankly, too many quality players. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Ramsey are all worthy of their selections in the squad. Each of them can win matches, and all have proven that fact. Injuries held the foursome back for portions of the season, but a combination of those talents is generally good enough to unlock defenses.

In terms of a "top, top striker," the club has not exactly scurried away from signing goal scorers. Olivier Giroud has 14 goals in 22 games, which is a great return. Also, new signings Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez have combined for 18 goals and 11 assists this season. Yes, Sanchez accounted for three quarters of those totals, having come up big during Giroud's prolonged injury absence, but Welbeck, who is still only 24, often helps create goals with his movement even if he is not exactly the best at applying the final touch.

Everything considered, Arsenal did better business than Manchester United and Manchester City.

Henry's proclamation that Chelsea bought players while Arsenal did not is, at best, misinformed. More accurately, his statement is flat-out incorrect. Would a top-quality striker help Arsenal? Of course, another top goal scorer would help any team. The same can be said for adding a top-quality midfielder, defender or goalkeeper. The fact is that Arsenal has been the best team in the Premier League since the start of 2015, and this team is good enough to win the Premier League next season as presently constructed.

"Arsenal have a phenomenal squad," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said in response to Henry's comments. "Thierry Henry said they need four top-class players. Give Arsenal four top-class players and I think they will again be the 'Invincibles'."

While Mourinho's quote has been received as agreement with Henry's call for better players at the Emirates, the Portuguese's words themselves seem to have been misunderstood: As presently constructed, Arsenal is good enough to win next year's Premier League; add in four top players and Arsenal could well go through a full season without suffering a defeat



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