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Darren Lewis: Benzema? To challenge Chelsea, Arsenal need a far less sexy signing

14 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Darren Lewis: Benzema? To challenge Chelsea, Arsenal need a far less sexy signing

The Daily Mirror sports writer believes splashing the cash on a tough-tackling midfielder could turn Arsene Wenger's side into title contenders

He would not have stopped Arsenal conceding at a set-piece against West Ham.

Nor would he have prevented Mauro Zarate getting a shot from outside the box into the bottom corner with five players ball-watching.

Yet Karim Benzema has been the hot name on the lips of so many Arsenal fans in the wake of last Sunday’s shock home defeat.

Fascinating when one of the glaring areas crying out to be strengthened is defensive midfield. Far less sexy but just as necessary.

Arsenal have an abundance of players with craft, creativity and composure in front of goal.

They are magnificent to watch in full flight and they clearly can’t wait to get their opening weekend defeat out of their system when they go to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

8/11 – Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace

You just sense, however, that they’d have more chance of throwing down that title challenge to Chelsea with someone to do the dirty work.

Mikel Arteta is now 33 while Francis Coquelin is decent but was out-thought and out-manoeuvred at the Emirates last weekend.

In fact it was the Hammers’ own midfielder, Cheikou Kouyate, who scored the goal that set them on their way to that shock victory.

How Arsenal could do with a Nemanja Matic, a Nigel De Jong or a Gilberto Silva, who was in centre of the park the last time they won the Premier League, 11 years ago with the Invincibles.

Southampton had one of the best defences in the top flight last season because they had Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin in front of the back four.

The difference between Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren, with that pair in front of him at Southampton, and the player currently labouring at Anfield is quite something.

Tough-tackling midfielders such as Geoffrey Kondogbia and Gianelli Imbula have gone begging this summer when they would have been good additions to the Arsenal team.

But there is still time if Arsene Wenger has the inclination.

Sevilla midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak has emerged as the a player over whom the Arsenal boss has been running the rule and the Poland international could yet be the answer.

Wenger has insisted in his pre-weekend press conference that he is not in for him despite having looked at him. But if not, why not?

Krychowiak is 25 and, to be honest, just an example. But he is a good player.

He helped his club win to the Europa League last season and is now with a London-based agent following interest from several Premier League outfits.

Sevilla and his representatives laughed at offers of around £9m and £10m for him from Southampton and made it clear that Krychowiak – who has a release clause of £22million – is aiming higher.

Arsenal, however, would be a different matter.

Sevilla are seriously concerned about a move for him from the Gunners because they know that he would find it too good to turn down.

13/8 – Karim Benzema to join Arsenal in the summer transfer window

The clamour for Benzema is understandable. The 27-year-old would add an obvious touch of class to the Arsenal attack having hit 133 goals in 281 games for Real Madrid.

That would suggest, however, that the Gunners should be shooting their way out of trouble when they should be creating a solid platform to build on.

Arsenal were successful home and away against Palace last season and have not lost at Selhurst Park since 1994.

Despite the summer improvements Alan Pardew has made to the Eagles’ side the Gunners should be too good this weekend.

Yet it is to be hoped that victory doesn’t seduce Wenger into once again showing the kind of loyalty to his existing midfield that has held the club back in the past.

He has proved over the past couple of seasons – to stunning effect – that he is ready to splash the cash when the situation demands it.

With a player like Krychowiak he would once again see where that money has gone.

Crystal Palace v Arsenal betting