Paul Merson: Chelsea far better than Arsenal in this area, it’s worrying

Arsenal Stadium - Emirates

Former Arsenal player Paul Merson feels the Gunners need four new players this summer.

Popular football pundit Paul Merson has told Sky Sports that Arsenal need a new spine if they are to compete with Chelsea for the Premier League title next season.

The Gunners head into the season finale with high hopes of a positive summer and subsequent title charge next season, owing to an excellent run of form throughout 2015.

In spite of their defeat against Swansea City last Monday, Arsene Wenger’s men post the best points-per-game ratio in the league in 2015 and the positives are overwhelming.

The likes of Francis Coquelin, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud have been big plus points for the North Londoners and the team’s form against fellow top-four opponents has improved immensely.

Merson, however, still sees an underlying weakness at the Emirates and feels unless they improve the spine of the team, they stand little chance of challenging the Blues next season.

“I’ve just gone through the whole spine of the team. Every team has to have a good spine to win anything and I think they need new faces in every position down the centre - that’s worrying,” he said.

“Look at Chelsea, they’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Courtois. They’ve got John Terry - different class. Nemanja Matic - different class. Diego Costa - different class. If the spine isn’t strong you’re not winning anything.”

Do Arsenal need a new spine?

Many observers have often picked up on the Gunners’ weakness both in central defence and midfield, but the recruitment of Gabriel Paulista and Francis Coquelin’s inclusion has been telling.

Both players have undoubtedly improved the first-team XI and strengthened the squad, and given their age the potential is there for both players to really dominate in years to come.

Giroud, likewise, has arguably been the best striker in England over the past few months and his main attributes suit the North Londoners’ style of play.

Finding better players will undoubtedly come at a heavy price, but possible injuries to either Giroud or Coquelin could come at an even bigger price in terms of a possible league title.

As a first-team spine, the Gunners can mix it with Chelsea but where their London rivals come out on top is the strength in depth and the ability to replace key players without hindering their momentum.

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