During a slow international weekend break, Arsenal Fan TV tweeted: “Wilfried Zaha is being lined up for a move to Arsenal. Is he good enough to replace Sanchez?” Or words to that effect.
It would be wrong to say responses to the tweet were unanimously negative, but overall it appeared as if Zaha wouldn’t be many people’s choice to come in.
This really interested me. My father-in-law is a huge Palace fan, and although I’d be loathe to call them ‘my second team’, I pay them and Zaha a lot of attention.
The theme of most of those tweet responses were how Zaha isn’t of the level we require at Arsenal. Signing him, it was argued, would be symptomatic of how far our on-field expectations have fallen.
Personally I think this is grossly unfair. Zaha is younger, hungrier and technically better with the ball than Theo Walcott, a player who has managed to start every cup game we’ve played this season. Walcott is backup yes, but Zaha would be a definite upgrade, even if his finishing isn’t quite up to Walcott’s better standard yet.
The point on him being hungrier is an important one. Having left Palace once, Zaha was given fleeting chances at Old Trafford under the horror tenure of David Moyes. Still too raw for Manchester United, he was shipped to Cardiff City on loan before going full circle and ending back at Selhurst Park.
He knuckled down, worked hard and is now a far better player than the one that headed north four years ago. Now 25, he’s the key to Palace’s survival, with performances, if not all results, improving no end since he returned from an injury which stalled the beginning of his campaign.
I suppose it’s because of who Zaha would be replacing is the problem. Sanchez is supposedly a ‘World Class’ player, and with Zaha not at that level, people seem disappointed.
The fact is, we need to get real. Both Sanchez and Ozil are going, and I highly doubt both will leave for transfer fees in January. That means both walk out on a free in the summer, and we have to stump up the money to replace them.
With Champions League football next season far from assured, Zaha is probably the type of player we could attract. The summer dreams of Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar were nice dreams to have, but that’s ultimately all they were. Neither guy signed and realistically Lemar is going to have a pick of clubs bigger and better than Arsenal to go to when he does decide to leave Monaco.
Zaha and Nabil Fekir are far more realistic targets for Arsenal, who currently don’t have the standing, nor the managerial pull, to attract World Class stars.
Honestly, if you were Lemar, there’s at least four teams you’d be more inclined to join if you were to come to England.
Arsenal and Zaha is different I think, because he has something to prove in this league, having failed in his previous move to a bigger club. Joining us would be a step up for the Ivorian, and he’s got the character to thrive and handle the pressure.
Everyone slates Ozil for lacking effort, and then when we’re linked with a player who works harder than most to help his team, people still aren’t happy.
I’d like to see Zaha prove them wrong in Arsenal red. At least he’d be willing to fight for the shirt.