Premier League • England

Exclusive: Ray Parlour tells Arsenal the one deal they must get done in January

Ray Parlour, November 2021

Former Arsenal star Ray Parlour has urged his former club to sign a striker in January despite the recent form of both Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah – and suggested the player he thinks could be perfect in the role. 

The Gunners sit second in the Premier League table and are unbeaten in the opening 10 matches of the new season, but there is always a worry about the ability of Manchester City to grind out results at times when teams like Arsenal cannot.

The London club have scored 23 goals in the league so far this season, one more than City and Tottenham but three fewer than Aston Villa and Newcastle as they approach the end of the first half of the season.

Mikel Arteta’s go-to man up top, Jesus, missed the start of the season with a knee injury and was slowly integrated back into the side before suffering a setback in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea on October 21. Nketiah stepped up for last weekend’s game against Sheffield United and bagged himself a hat-trick on his eighth league start of the season.

Last term Nketiah managed nine goals in 39 appearances for the Gunners while Jesus netted 11 goals in 33 despite dealing with a knee injury that kept him on the sidelines for a large chunk of the season.

However, Parlour believes Arsenal are still lacking extra quality in front of goal and suggested bringing in a top-quality striker could be the key to them really challenging the likes of Man City for the Premier League title.

“Where they are going to be lacking is the striker position. In teams I played in we had four top strikers so I think that is one area they need to improve. I know Jesus is out at the moment and Nketiah did brilliantly getting his hat-trick at the weekend but there is not a lot of options up front,” he told TEAMtalk on behalf of Stocklytics.

“I am sure Arteta, if there is someone available whether on loan or someone who is not playing on a regular basis but who he knows can do a decent job, will be looking for options. When you are chasing a goal you have got to change it up front and they do not have that at the moment. That might be the place they will be looking at.

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Ivan Toney could be perfect option for Arsenal

“We always know in January that the best players are not available. I know Ivan Toney is one always mentioned, he could be on the radar but you have to look at the financial situation as well.

“I would [like to see Arsenal sign him]. He works his socks off, he is a good finisher, he will get lots of chances. What I have seen of him so far in a Brentford shirt, he has been excellent. That is the sort of player you want to be looking at.

“Brentford will not want to lose their best player but they have coped without him. [Bryan] Mbeumo has been excellent and the likes of [Yoane] Wissa but he is still a quality player. Brentford will probably want to keep him in the end but if they do sell him they will be wanting to get the best money for him.”

But Parlour didn’t downplay the Gunners’ title chances even without a new hitman up front.

“I think they have a great chance [to win the title], they can go on a winning streak like we have seen,” he said.

“I think they are stronger than they were last year. Declan Rice has made a big, big difference in that midfield area. I think they could go all the way but it is going to be very very tough.

“I think Liverpool have improved a lot this season as well, they have changed their midfield completely so they are going to be in the mix as well. Spurs as well with what they have achieved so far under the new manager.

“It is a situation where you have to believe in yourself, learn from what you did wrong last season – the games like West Ham, Southampton – and see games out a little bit better.”

Toney, who is currently serving an eight-month ban from footballing activities, will be available to play again from January and has been added to Arteta’s shortlist of targets for the January window.

The Gunners are likely to face competition from Tottenham and Chelsea in their pursuit of the Brentford goalscorer and the Bees will be looking for around £65m from any interested party keen on securing a deal.

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