Unai Emery told Arsenal urgently need signing in key position
Unai Emery need to sign a new centre-half for the Arsenal defence, according to Nigel Winterburn
Arsenal urgently need a new centre-half to stop their defensive rot, according to Gunners legend Nigel Winterburn.
The north London side have been busy in the summer transfer window as Unai Emery looks to overhaul the Arsenal squad.
The Gunners spent £36m on Saint-Etienne’s 18-year-old defender William Saliba last month but the French prospect has been loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for the 2019-20 season as part of the deal.
Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny is facing an uncertain future at the north London club after his request to have his contract prematurely terminated was denied by the Europa League runners up.
The France international refused to go on pre-season tour with Arsenal to the United States but his situation hasn’t been resolved despite their new Premier League campaign starting in seven days.
Rob Holding hasn’t made a full recovery from his season-ending knee problem, while neither Shkodran Mustafi nor Sokratis Papastathopoulos have convinced since their respective moves to Arsenal.
Former Gunners defender Winterburn is desperate to see Arsenal sign a new centre-half to improve Emery’s defence ahead of the Spanish head coach’s second season in charge.
“My worry is that if you look over the last couple of seasons the away form has been poor and the goals conceded has been 51 against both times in the league alone,” said Winterburn, speaking exclusively to 888sport. “That tells you that something isn’t working.
“Unfortunately Arsene Wenger’s last season defensively wasn’t great and last season Unai Emery didn’t have what I’d class as his own team.
“The brunt of the problem comes from your back four or back five but also the work-rate and positioning of the players in front of them and we saw that again last season where towards the end the top four was wide open but they couldn’t cope with the away games.”
Winterburn added: “The problem they have now is that Holding, Chambers, Papastathopoulos, Koscielny, Mustafi and Konstantinos are all centre-halves and that is making it difficult to bring in another one because the squad is top heavy with them.
“This makes it especially frustrating that we can’t find a partnership consistent enough to least propel us towards a top four position.
“My gut feeling is that we need to bring in another centre-half or these problems will only continue, those problems being an inability to keep clean sheets and seeing games out.”
Arsenal spent £72m on Lille winger Nicolas Pepe to add more pace to the Gunners team.
The north London side have also signed Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos on a season-long loan.
Read the full 888sport interview with Nigel Winterburn, including why he thinks Holding will thrive being made captain just like a young Tony Adams did.