The Gunners have had a busy transfer window this summer following Unai Emery’s arrival at the Emirates.
Arsenal have completed five signings, with Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira all heading to north London.
However, the Gunners are rarely in the mix when it comes to breaking the bank for a top player – with club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the exception in recent years.
And former Arsenal ace Hartson says the Gunners should be in for the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian when these world-class players become available.
“In the last few years, Arsenal aren’t in for the best players in the world,” Hartson exclusively told Express Sport while speaking at the Premier League and BT Disability Football Festival at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus.
“Why aren’t they in for the likes of Hazard or Willian? They won’t go and spend the £80m or £90m that City or Liverpool will, like they showed with [Virgil] van Dijk.
“Arsenal always miss out, but whether that will change under Emery, I’m not so sure.
“When the big world-class players come along, Arsenal miss the boat and don’t go in for them. That was the case under [Arsene] Wenger for numerous years.
“Arsenal have always been great going forward, they’ve always had great attack-minded players, the likes of [Thierry] Henry and [Alexis] Sanchez.
“Their problem has always been defensively, they’ve been lame at times.
“Per Mertesacker, I felt, Arsene Wenger stuck with him on many occasion when he was getting exposed a lot and costing Arsenal.”
Emery is hoping to mount a Premier League title charge this season following his summer spending spree, with Arsenal fully focused on domestic competitions after failing to qualify for the Champions League.
However, BT Sport pundit Hartson reckons a top four finish should be the aim for Emery in his first season in England, adding the former PSG boss will be under immense pressure to get results immediately.
“I still feel Arsenal are trying to get back into the top four. I don’t feel this particular group are title challengers, I don’t see it,” he added.
“I think Emery will need a bit of time but I’m not sure if the Arsenal fans see it that way. There will be big expectations on him.
“He’s come with a great CV from Sevilla and PSG. He’s used to big games, he had fantastic success in the Europa League, but there’ll be huge pressure on him with many fans happy to see the back of Wenger.
“I don’t think he’ll get the time, but I think he should. The fans should be patient but they’ll expect him to hit the ground running.”
John Hartson was speaking at the Premier League and BT Disability Football Festival. Over 180 young people who participate in Club disability sports sessions, funded by the Premier League and BT, attended the event at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus.
The initiative aims to create opportunities and inspire disabled people through sport, with 23,437 participants engaged since the programme launched in September 2016.