Jamie Carragher names Arsenal's Roberto Firmino who has put them in Premier League title race

Kai Havertz celebrates scoring for Arsenal

Jamie Carragher believes Kai Havertz's upturn in form in 2024 is the reason behind Arsenal's Premier League title challenge.

The 24-year-old made the move to the Emirates Stadium from London rivals Chelsea last summer in a deal worth £65m but struggled to win over supporters initially as he registered just one goal and one assist in his first 12 games for the club.

In 2024, though, Havertz has propelled Arsenal to the top of the Premier League and has Mikel Arteta's side on the brink of landing a first league title since 2004 courtesy of his crucial goals against Bournemouth, Brentford, Luton Town, Chelsea and most recently in the North London Derby against Tottenham.

On Saturday, Havertz was the star of the show again as he orchestrated Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Bournemouth to move the Gunners back to the Premier League summit with just two games to go,

Ex-Liverpool defender Carragher believes the forward has been the trigger behind Arsenal's free-flowing football, in a similar way Roberto Firmino was during a glittering eight-year career at Anfield that saw him win both the Premier League and Champions League.

"I think Arsenal right now, defensively, are as good as anyone in Europe and probably the world right now and making it tough for teams," said Carragher on Monday Night Football.

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"They have definitely improved in 2024 more than probably the first half of the season and the biggest reason for me, or one of the reasons that has helped this, is Kai Havertz.

"Now, Havertz has been mocked a little bit at the start of the season and again, when he came in you are not quite sure where he fits in.

"And to be honest, I have never been quite sure what his position is. I think finally now he is a centre-forward. I am not saying he is going to be an unbelievable goalscorer because he is not.

"But he is a centre-forward and he is helping Arsenal do what they are doing right now, which is being so strong defensively and that is what is giving them a great chance to win the Premier League."

Jamie Carragher analysed Arsenal's attack on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football
Jamie Carragher analysed Arsenal's attack on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football -Credit:Sky Sports Premier League

The former Liverpool defender added: "I was thinking about when you think of great centre-forwards in the Premier League who haven't been great goalscorers, the one who comes to mind is Firmino at Liverpool and the work he did off the ball really. And you see what Havertz is doing off the ball, he will get goals but he won't get an avalanche."

Like Firmino, it is Havertz's work off the ball that has impressed Carragher: "What I find interesting is that, I have seen in the last few weeks that when they went away to Manchester City or Tottenham, they get in a really deep block," he said.

"Sometimes you say they are away at their rivals, but we’ve also highlighted that Arsenal are as good as anyone pressing from the front, going man-to-man and winning that ball high up the pitch. But you don’t often see a top team play like a team near the bottom. That is not a criticism, that’s a praise.

"These attacking players are working that hard to get back behind the ball and that’s why it is so difficult to play against Arsenal right now. We saw this away at Man City and we see it constantly when Kai Havertz is playing as the centre-forward. You’re playing against Bournemouth and that is your team’s block. We’ve seen them deep, they now try and press high, look at him, it’s brilliant.

"He runs back, sprints back and makes a challenge and they are on their way. They don’t score from this but if they do, Kai Havertz doesn’t get an assist, he doesn’t touch the ball but he’s played a major role in creating a massive chance."