Arsenal supporters have been in fine voice in the Transfer Tavern in the last few days after seeing their team reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a mightily impressive 5-1 aggregate success over AC Milan in the last 16.
Arsene Wenger’s men held a 2-0 lead over the Italian giants ahead of the return leg at the Emirates Stadium last week, although there were a few nerves in the home end when Hakan Calhanoglu gave Gennaro Gattuso’s side the lead. Nonetheless, the Gunners responded emphatically with a brace from Danny Welbeck and a Granit Xhaka strike to book their place in the last eight of Europe’s secondary competition, where they will face CSKA Moscow next month.
Consequently, there have been many delighted Arsenal fans in the Tavern in recent times, several of whom are beginning to dream about Europa League glory this season, which in turn would secure them a spot in the Champions League next term.
In the meantime though, there has been plenty for our resident Gunners supporters to get their teeth into, not least recent reports linking their club with a move for Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno as a possible replacement for Petr Cech.
And while the 26-year-old would likely be a useful addition to Wenger’s squad, the North London giants must forget about a move for the German star, and instead replace ageing Cech with Stoke City’s Jack Butland.
Ultimately, 25-year-old Butland has proven his credentials at Premier League level in the last few years, helping to keep 22 clean sheets in 80 matches for a Stoke side who have been one of the worse teams defensively in recent times.
And while the statistics don’t make for pretty reading for the England international, he has been behind a Potters backline that have conceded more goals than any other side in the Premier League this season (58). And while Arsenal’s defence has been criticised in the past, they aren’t that bad.
Butland has made more saves than any other shot-stopper in the top-flight this term (112), while he has also shown great command of his box to suggest that he has the authority and the confidence to marshal a defence, and thus make a difference at the back.
And Arsenal fans will know only too well how excellent Butland is after his man-of-the-match display against the Gunners at the bet365 Stadium back in August, with WhoScored.com rating that as his best performance of the campaign.
And while he has made errors at times this season (incidentally so has Cech), there have also been many positive displays produced by the England star, which is why it is not overly surprising to see several top clubs, including Arsenal, linked with the 25-year-old.
Ultimately, Cech will be 36 in May and as such a replacement needs to be eyed, and who better to take his place than Butland, who has performed well at this level, has played 70 games at this level, and seemingly has a bright future ahead of him for both club and country.
And while Leno is extremely highly rated, he hasn’t enjoyed the best of campaigns at Leverkusen, and there will inevitably be question marks about his suitability to the Premier League having played all of his football on the continent.
No such doubts would be had with Butland though, which is why the Gunners must forget about Leno and instead replace Cech with £16.2 million-rated Butland (as per Transfermarkt) this summer.
Arsenal fans… what do you think? Let us know!