Lee Bowyer has told The Debate on Sky Sports (broadcast on 4/11; 22:39) that he cannot understand why Arsenal did not spend the Nicolas Pepe money on a top centre-back like Harry Maguire during the summer.
The Gunners have made a mixed start to the season. Unai Emery is coming under plenty of pressure right now. Arsenal will have gone more than a month without a league win by the time they face Leicester City this weekend.
Scoring goals has not been a problem for the Gunners. They average over two goals per game, and Sheffield United are the only side to keep a clean sheet against them.
But they themselves have not kept many clean sheets. They have managed just two in the Premier League. And they have thrown away leads against the likes of Watford, Crystal Palace and Wolves.
And former Premier League midfielder Bowyer suggested that the £72 million that was spent on Pepe in the summer (fee reported by BBC Sport) should have been perhaps been spent on another area of the squad. The current Charlton Athletic boss also earmarked who may have been the perfect target for the Gunners.
“Their centre-halves have been a problem for years. I think that’s where they need to strengthen. But it’s not just been this season. It’s been for a while now, and everybody’s known it,” he told The Debate.
“But for some reason, they’d rather go and spend £75 million on a winger instead of bringing in a top centre-half. Harry Maguire, I think he would have been perfect for them so why didn’t they go and get him. That’s what they need. A solid leader.”
The likes of David Luiz and Sokratis are capable of colossal performances. Unfortunately, it seems almost as likely that they could make a calamitous error.
It would be unfair to suggest that signing Pepe was a mistake. He is yet to really get going. But he has shown glimpses of his quality. And it would not be a surprise if he proved to be a phenomenal signing once he has fully settled in.
Nevertheless, you could understand why some Arsenal fans may agree with Bowyer’s assessment and wish that they had signed £80 million man Maguire (fee reported by BBC Sport). The centre-back situation has been a longstanding issue for the Gunners, and it arguably does not help Emery’s cause that it remains a problem for his side.