Arsenal turned down chance to sign 6 ft 2 in Northern Irish centre-back

Arsene Wenger should have signed Jonny Evans when Gunners were linked with the ex-Man United centre-back. Northern Ireland international was at West Bromwich Albion when Arsene seriously considered signing the player, with Man City also reportedly circling. Evans became an unchanged figure for the Foxes since joining.

Baggies kept hold of Jonny until he signed for Leicester City in the summer of 2018 and he will line up against Gunners on the weekend when Arsenal travel to the King Power Stadium. Foxes are aiming to widen the six-point gap between them, and London club and Smith bemoaned Wenger’s choice to shelve his interest in Jonny.

He said: ‘So much attention falls on the attacking vibrancy of Jamie Vardy, Youri Tielemans, James Maddison and all, but Foxes have just conceded eight goals this campaign, the division’s joint-best record, thanks mainly to a settled defence marshalled by the excellent Jonny Evans.

‘I remember when Arsene Wenger considered buying the centre-half, only to head in another direction. ‘For me, it’s not so much about the quality of centre-back, more the lack of organisation in terms of shape.’ Gunners have struggled to produce consistency under Unai Emery, with defence a particular issue for the London club.

The Spanish tactician is under pressure to turn results around, but the Gunners manager insists issues off the field have had a big effect on results on the pitch. ‘I’m not disappointed with our work,’ said Unai. ‘I am realistic because some circumstances did not help us to achieve our best performance.