Hi Gooners, by Peter Doherty
While recognizing that most Gooners will feel that this ship has already sailed it strikes me that the search for cover to prevent Saka burnout may be present in a former Arsenal linked man in Zaha. With rumours swirling around any player that had cause to wander on to a wing in the course of a game in the top European leagues it surprises me that this is a move that doesn’t garner any attention.
There is of course the recognition of the age profile not fitting the current regimes framework. But Arsenals investment in youth and potential has reached saturation point and it’s would be prudent at this point to start bringing in proven Premier League experience and quality to supplement the younger players. With the exception of his season at United, Zaha has been consistently outstanding in what has often been a humdrum Palace side. For successive seasons he was their only creative outlet and he never failed to deliver. His United foray was an aberration as he joined a club in complete turmoil at a formative period in his career.
Zaha is nudging 30 and this will probably undermine any possibility of this deal being done. But 30 in today’s game is not the same as it was in previous generations. The longevity of players has increased significantly and Zaha has the advantage of not having a huge amount of International wear and tear. What was evident in his battle with White last week was that the level of threat that he poses has not diminished. Every time he picked the ball up there was a palpable sense of danger in the backline. This level of impending threat is an invaluable asset to a team, as often it is the potential rather than the execution that unsettles a defence. Knowing that a player can cause you damage causes a defence to double up as was the case with White and Saliba, Saka and at one point, Zinchenko. Zaha has the presence to cause an opposing defence to lose structure as he is so potent. The opportunities that this could create for Jesus in particular, who is world class at picking up second balls off tackles and ricochets, is immense.
Another asset that Zaha has is a committed attitude. As demonstrated last week his effort level never drops and it’s stands out even in a team as hard working as Palace. Although he prefers the left wing for Palace he has proven equally adept when switching sides which means he offers quality cover on both sides. If you need reminding of how dangerous Zaha can be check out his through ball for Eze and then his awareness and positioning directly afterwards after Ramsdale’s save.
My final selling point is that he is a confessed Gooners and would bleed for the shirt. With Zaha there is always a sense of what might have been if Emery had his wish and got him instead of Pepe. I’d be interested to hear what you Gooners think about the unlikely prospect of him arriving now.
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