Good morning, William. I’d like to ask you about Arsenal’s win over Manchester City last Sunday night. Do you think The Gunners will go on to win the league?
WG – ”No, I don’t think Arsenal will win the league this season. I think they’re still missing something, and although they won against Man City, it looked like Arsenal still need a striker who can make a difference. They don’t have that at the moment.
Gabriel Jesus was playing on the right-hand side up front and he’s doing well, but the Gunners need a striker who can be clinical. They’re playing well, but they drew their previous two games before City and they can’t afford to do that.
It was only a 5-point difference between them and City last season, and if more of those draws were victories, Arsenal would’ve won the league.”
We’ve seen Liverpool lose out to City by a single point in recent seasons. You need all the points you can get! Who do you think is the clinical striker that Arsenal need? Do you have any names in mind?
WG -” I don’t have any names in mind when it comes to finding solutions. That’s something Arsenal’s recruitment team should think about. I know Mikel Arteta is happy with his squad, but to win the Premier League you need someone who can score around 20 or 25 goals in a season. Manchester City have Haaland, and he broke the record for the most goals in a league season in 22/23. You need that type of striker if you want to win the league. If you don’t have that, you need a pair of strikers scoring 20 goals each!”
That’s a great point! Arsenal have had Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie, and Emmanuel Adebayor in the past. Reports have linked Victor Osihmen and Ivan Toney as being on Arsenal’s radar in January. Do you think either or those would be a good fit at Arsenal?
WG – ”I think Arsenal need one world-class striker, and at the moment, Tony is not a world-class striker, he is a good striker who has been doing well, but Arsenal need a striker like Haaland. Osihmen is a different class of striker. He can do damage in the Premier League and I think he can be that striker for Arsenal. It’s difficult to think of others who are that good! I think the lack of world-class strikers is a big problem for modern football. There used to be so many!”
Pure number nines are quite rare! They were quite common in your prime, though, with the likes of Alan Shearer, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and many others. They do, however, seem to be coming back into fashion. Apart from Haaland, are there any other world-class strikers around at the moment?
WG – ”That’s a good question. Mo Salah comes to mind when I think of world-class strikers, and I think that’s it! Most of the big clubs lack a truly world-class forward. Chelsea don’t have one, and neither do Spurs, although Heung-Min Son is looking like he’ll get 20 goals this season. Manchester United don’t have that striker, either.
What are you predicting for Chelsea vs Arsenal? Do you have a score in mind?
WG – ”Arsenal are looking good at the moment, and Chelsea are still in trouble despite winning their last game. Their position in the table is not where they should be, and they had a difficult campaign last season. I’d say they look better this season, but their squad is still young. It’ll be very interesting to see if Arsenal can go to Stamford Bridge and head back to North London with the three points. I, however, foresee a draw.”
Do you think it’ll be a goalless draw, or can you see goals in the game?
WG – ”I can see goals in the game between Chelsea and Arsenal. The Blues play much differently to the likes of Manchester City, and Arsenal seemed to be worried in the game against them last week. So did City. Neither of them wanted to make a mistake! It’ll be different against Chelsea, though, as the Blues need the points. I can see them attacking Arsenal and the Gunners can respond. I’m sure we’ll see goals.’’
Do you see the game finishing 2-2, 1-1, or a different score?
WG – ”Let’s go for the 2-2. Fans always want to see goals in these London derbies, and a result of 2-2 will be perfect.”
That would be entertaining! Reports suggest Buyako Saka won’t be fit for the Chelsea game, although that could change as the week unfolds. If Saka remains injured, how should Arsenal line up in attack?”
WG – ”I think Gabriel Martinelli will start against Chelsea after his heroics last week. Not starting Gabriel Jesus is out of the question, though I’m not sure if he’ll play centrally or on the right. I also think Mikel Arteta will play Kai Havertz in the front three, as he’ll be playing against his old club. Arteta could give him the opportunity to play consistently. I don’t think he was the player for Arsenal, though, as he has a different style and it’s not easy to fit into Arteta’s system. That being said, Arteta needs all of his players this season, and that’s why he could play Kai Havertz up-front.’’
Are you impressed with Kai Havertz so far?
WG – ”I’m not impressed with Kai Havertz so far. He’s done nothing since he joined Arsenal. He may have scored, but that was only because Martin Odegaard let him take a penalty! Havertz hasn’t done anything yet, and I think he’s in trouble.”
Arsenal paid £65 million to sign Havertz. Do you think Arsenal should’ve signed him?
WG – ”No, I don’t think Arsenal should have signed Kai Havertz. I think that was a mistake. If you spent £60 million on a striker, you expect them to score at least 15 goals in a season! I don’t think that’ll happen.”
I don’t think anyone knows where Kai Havertz’s best position is. He played in so many different positions at Chelsea. Perhaps it’ll take time for him to settle.
WG – ”Arsenal don’t have time! The season may be long, but clubs need results straight away. Havertz was at Chelsea for three years and knows the Premier League well. It may take a while to settle into a new team, but he already lived in London! Players need to adapt immediately – they don’t have time.”
William Saliba has been touted as the best centre-back in the world by some. Do you agree?
WG – ”Let’s calm down about William Saliba! That’s a problem with the modern media, and discussion like this isn’t good for the players. Some of them can’t deal with that pressure. I like Saliba, and I think he’s a really good player, but as far as I’m concerned, the best defenders in the world have to play in their national teams and be a constant in their starting 11. Saliba isn’t a starter for France yet, but when he’s in the line-up and he’s performing as well as he does at club level, then we can discuss him being the world’s best defender. At the moment, he could be one of the best defenders in Europe. There’s a difference!”
We talked about world-class strikers earlier. Who do you think the world-class defenders are?
WG – ”Thiago Silva comes to mind when thinking about truly world-class defenders. He was great in the past, and he’s great now, even at his age. I also like Josko Gvardiol, and he’s a great example of a player who adapted to a new system straight away. Look at how he plays now compared to how he played at RB Leipzig – the way he’s adapted is unbelievable and he’s a world-class defender. There’s also Raphael Varane. He may not be at his best at the moment, but what he’s achieved speaks for itself. Virgil Van Dijk is great, too, even if he’s not quite been the same since his injury. He was top-class back then, but he’s making some mistakes now. He’s not perfect, but he’s still very good. I’d say those are the world-class defenders I can think of.”
Are there any current Premier League defenders who you’d love to play next to?
WG – ”I’m not sure if I can list any current Premier League defenders I’d love to play next to. Defenders have to understand each other throughout the whole season, and it’s not always ideal to play with someone with the same profile as yourself.”
Is there anyone else you’d like to see Arsenal sign in January?
WG – ”As I said before, I feel Arsenal need a clinical striker. The Gunners are well-stocked in midfield, and they need to have a world-class striker in front of them. I also think Arsenal need a right-back as I’m still convinced Ben White isn’t one. I like Ben White and I think he’s a good player, but he’s not a right-back.”
He’s not a natural right-back.
WG – ”No, he’s not natural! It’s clear to see that when Arsenal attack. We were discussing how football has changed earlier on, and the role of right-backs is one of the best examples of this. They need to have great delivery on the ball and feed the strikers, and that’s why I don’t feel Ben White is natural. I have nothing against him, though! People think I don’t like him, which isn’t true. He’s a good player, but he’s not a natural right-back.
So much is expected of right-backs now, and I don’t see Ben White ever mastering that position.
WG – ”One player who’d fit Arsenal is Achraf Hakimi. That’s what a natural right-back looks like! Hakimi can score goals, has great positioning, and can whip crosses in. He can smell when he has to attack and when he needs to defend. It’s natural for him, and Ben White has a different style.”
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