Arsenal legend Michael Thomas has spoken exclusively to CaughtOffside after the Gunners’ difficult start to the season.
As we approach deadline day, the former Arsenal midfielder is concerned about the state of Mikel Arteta’s defence right now, though he has high hopes for Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes as a partnership once they are both available.
Thomas is also unsure about Arsenal moving for Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier, as he feels the England international looks too expensive for a player his age, even if an upgrade on Hector Bellerin is needed.
“Trippier would be a big upgrade on Bellerin but the price tag that’s being touted is astonishing for a player about to turn 31,” Thomas told CaughtOffside.
“There are much better options that Arsenal could look to; Max Aarons, for example. I am also a believer that Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be the player for that role but I acknowledge he wants to ply his trade at centre midfield.
“The defence is a worry but Gabriel coming back in will be a massive boost. I think he can form a great partnership with White. I am more worried about who is sitting in front of them. Partey has to be back ASAP!”
Meanwhile, Thomas also responded to questions about players whose futures have come into some doubt after below-par performances in recent times.
The hero of Anfield ’89 admits it looks for the best if Willian leaves the Emirates Stadium after looking a shadow of his old self, though he thinks Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could get back to his best this season as he seems set to play through the middle more than he did last term.
“Willian just couldn’t get started. He looked a shadow of his former self throughout his time at Arsenal,” Thomas said. “Hopefully if the rumours are right, he is moving on and we can invest the money we save on his wages to put towards other players in order to strengthen the squad.
“He is definitely not high on Arsenal’s greatest signings, but we wish him luck all the same.
“I’m hoping to see Aubameyang through the middle a lot more this season. When he plays on the left I think he has to do a little too much tracking which takes away from his attacking attributes. We have bought Odegaard in to help the supply chain and I’m hoping we can add another 2-3 players before the deadline.
“Arsenal have had underlying issues in regards to finances available. We have had to pay off the stadium and compete which is a monstrous job to do. Players’ contracts have been an issue where they are not renewed in time or the complete opposite where players are happy to sit on the money.
“Wiser decisions need to be made going forward and we have started well with the young recruitment and big contract renewals of our best young players. We just need to add some steel and experience into the side.”
Thomas also addressed the big boost for Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham, who look set to keep hold of star player Harry Kane.
When asked about the Kane decision, Thomas said: “It is a massive boost for Tottenham. They have managed to keep hold of one of the best strikers in the world which will undoubtedly give them a strong chance at finishing higher up the table this season.”
Higher than Arsenal? “Ask me this question again after deadline day!”