‘I’m a lot more optimistic’ – Jermaine Jenas tips top-six club for Champions League spot
Former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas believes Arsenal have what it takes to return to the Premier League’s top four – while highlighting the one area that would make all the difference.
Arsenal have not finished in the Champions League places since 2015/16, but Jenas thinks the Gunners – who were only bettered by Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League scoring charts last season – can mount a serious top-four challenge next year, despite a lack of defensive additions.
The Gunners have instead added the likes of winger Nicolas Pepe, who cost the club a record fee of £72m.
Jenas told The Daily Mirror: “I’m very surprised they’ve not gone and got somebody [in defence], if you’ve got £72m to spend within any structuring of a deal, I don’t think another attacking player is what they needed – but at the same time, this Nicolas Pepe might turn out be an absolute world-beater that you just couldn’t let pass.
“They’re going to score goals again, they’re going to be difficult to play against. I think they’ll have a decent season. I’m a lot more optimistic for Arsenal this year than I was last year [when] I was a bit worried for them, but I think with youngsters like [Joe] Willock coming through, I think they’ll definitely be challenging for a top-four spot.
“There is no doubt they are an attacking force, they proved that last year with the amount of goals they scored, they just leak a lot of goals. If they fix that they will definitely finish [in the] top four.”
It may well be as simple as fixing the defensive issues at Arsenal, if last season is anything to go by. For all their woes which saw them concede 11 goals in their final five league matches, to only miss out on a Champions League place by a point suggests that a similar season to last with the added attacking talents of Pepe (scorer of 23 goals last term) could be enough to go one better next year.
The main difference in defence may be the departure of Koscielny, who played 29 times last season despite injury issues – and how they deal with that, as Jenas suggests – could well be what swings Arsenal’s season to come.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!
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