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Arsenal should sign Tottenham Hotspur's Wilson Palacios - Perry Groves

By Matthew Weiner

Arsenal need to sign Tottenham’s Wilson Palacios if they are going to win the Premier League next season. That’s according to Gunners cult hero Perry Groves.

Talking exclusively to UK, the former Arsenal midfielder reckons Arsene Wenger’s side will be able to recover from their Champions League disappointment to beat their north London rivals on Wednesday evening but don’t have enough experienced players like Palacios to win the title this year.

Perry Groves joined Arsenal in September 1986 as then manager George Graham's first signing, and won the League Cup later that season before going on to secure a League championship medal in 1989 - and another in 1991.

A supporter of the Gunners himself, the left-winger became a fans’ favourite thanks to his hard-working approach. His refreshingly honest and funny autobiography ‘We All Live In a Perry Groves World’ further cemented his place as an Arsenal cult hero.

Talking about the upcoming north London derby, Groves expressed his wish to see Honduran international Palacios in the red shirt of Arsenal rather than the white of Spurs.

“He’s the kind of midfield player we’re missing. He has high energy levels, a great work-ethic and stops the other team from playing. I think it’s quite ironic that Palacios came on trial to Arsenal but at the time we had [Patrick] Vieira, Gilberto [Silva] and [Cesc] Fabregas, and Wenger couldn’t see him breaking into our side so recommended the player to Steve Bruce when he was at Birmingham.

“We’ve got a very young side that needs experience and I think Palacios fits the bill. Spurs are unlikely to let their best player come to us. But it’s that kind of player that we need.”

Man of steel | Honduran is physical presence

Palacios is ranked No.456 overall in the Castrol Rankings, ahead of current Arsenal defenders Sol Campbell (No.1206) and Mikael Silvestre (No.1404).

Even with the injuries that the Gunners are currently nursing and the disappointment following the defeat at the feet of Lionel Messi, Groves thinks Arsenal will pick themselves up for the north London derby.

“The Spurs game comes at a good time for Arsenal because it will get the players motivated again.

“This is the biggest north London derby in the league for a while because before there’s been a massive gap between the clubs.

“They were a million miles away from us at the Emirates earlier on in the season when we beat them 3-0 and Ledley King had a particularly poor game.

“Now, Tottenham are going for fourth spot and nothing would give them greater pleasure than stopping Arsenal’s Premier League ambitions.

“Wednesday is going to be a typical high-paced, blood and thunder, north London derby but I fancy us. You know we’re going to score as we create so many chances and Spurs will score because we’re not great at keeping clean sheets. So I can see us winning 2-1.”

Despite forecasting a morale boosting win against their bitter local rivals, Groves doesn’t believe that Wenger’s side will go on to win the title. He’s particularly scathing of various pundits' suggestion that the Gunners have an easy run-in.

“There’s no easy game when you’re trying to win the Premier League. Every game there’s masses of pressure and every team we play has something to play for.

“I’m going to stick with my pre-season predictions: Arsenal will come third because of the greater experience and know-how that Manchester United and Chelsea have. I said Manchester United would win it at the beginning of the year but now it’s in Chelsea’s hands but there’s still plenty of twists and turns to be had.”

On a brighter note for Arsenal fans, Groves thinks that next season the Gunners can win the League as long as Arsene Wenger makes the right signings. Alongside Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh who appears to joining in the summer, Groves would like to see the boss add to the squad a combative midfielder like Wilson Palacios as well as a new goalkeeper and centre-back.

“We need to sign a goalkeeper; there’s Hugo Lloris at Lyon and Akinfeev at CSKA Moscow - both are experienced international goalkeepers with a real presence about them.

“At centre-half we need a top quality dominant defender who doesn’t need time to adjust to the Premier League, someone like Roger Johnson who’s been outstanding this year for Birmingham.”

Perry Groves previews all the weekend's football action with Colin Murray & Pat Nevin every Friday on BBC Radio 5 live sport, 7pm-10pm.

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