As Arsenal push hard for silverware this season, a number of flaws in their squad have become apparent. Disappointingly they are the same flaws that have derailed Arsenal’s title challenges over the last half-decade or so. Whilst it’s clear that the Gunners are as strong as ever going forward, defensively they look fragile. Of course, this is a common trait of any Arsene Wenger side. His footballing philosophy centres on free-flowing, eye-catching, offensive football and as a result, the defensive side of the game often gets left by the wayside.
Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin – all quality players who give Arsenal options upfront. Unfortunately, their defending high up the pitch often leaves something to be desired. Arsenal’s defensive backbone doesn’t extend further than the back-four.
Take for instance, Alex Song. As Arsenal’s defensive midfielder he should be a fixed point on the pitch. He should operate as a midfield anchor, sweeping up any loose balls in front of the Arsenal defence. Opting to forgo this custom, Wenger has granted Song freedom of the realm. His buccaneering runs and marauding spirit has seen the Gunners caught out at the back a number of times this season, when the back-four hasn’t been provided with the protection they need.
The kind of player that Arsenal really need this season is one who can lead by example and provide the team with a more defensive mindset. Defending is not just the job of the back four. If Arsenal can learn to defend all over the pitch with a Barcelona-esque high pressure game, they could be genuine title contenders
A lot of frustration has been vented at Sébastien Squillaci over the last couple of weeks. He’s slow, cumbersome and somewhat error prone. I’d like to see the Gunners bring in a defender who reads the game better and competes with strikers in the air. Squillaci was only ever supposed to be a covering defender, but with Vermaelen out injured has played a vital role in Arsenal’s season thus far. It’s harsh to be too critical of a player so fresh to the Premier League, but Arsenal are looking for success right now, not in the future. As such, the need for some fresh defensive cover is clear.
There has been a lot of noise concerning the likes of Blackburn’s Christopher Samba and Bolton’s Gary Cahill. Two decent defenders for sure, but I’m hoping that Wenger looks outside the Premier League this January. In fact I’m hoping he trains his gaze onto the Bundesliga. Per Mertesacker, who currently plies his trade for Werder Bremen would make an excellent addition to Arsenal’s squad.
The intimidating (6 feet 6 inches tall!) centre back has made a name for himself as one of the best defenders in Germany. He’s quick across the deck, always seems to be in the right position and towers above most strikers. Werder Bremen rate the lanky 26 year-old at about £8.5 million. He’s experienced, he has pedigree and I’m sure would be able to adapt to the Premier League quickly. Arsenal should snap him up. .
Who is the ONE player you’d like to see in the red and white of Arsenal? Feel free to leave a comment or follow me on Twitter @ThePerfectPass.