I’m sure Arsenal fans are getting bored with being reminded they haven’t won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup final, so I won’t harp on about Arsenal’s lack of success in recent years. Instead I’m going to suggest the main reason why Arsenal didn’t pick up one of the four trophies they were in contention for this season, was down to their defence. If Arsenal had a dominating and commanding centre back in the team last season I think they would have ended their trophy drought. Due to Thomas Vermaelen’s long term injury Arsenal were left with Johan Djourou, Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny to marshal the centre of defence and there’s not enough quality there for a team who had Championship aspirations.
Arsenal’s centre back trio were erratic all season long and although they did put in some solid performances there was a lack of consistency. Arsene Wenger looked to address the issue in January when he tried to tie up a move for Blackburn’s Christopher Samba. However Samba decided to stay at Ewood Park and signed a contract extension with the club. The Congolese powerhouse may have signed a new contract in February but he hasn’t ruled out a move in the summer and with Phil Jones’ imminent departure to Man United it could be enough to convince him to leave as well.
It appears that Wenger is aware of the defensive frailties in the heart of his defence and while I think he should have been more assertive in January, he looks set to put things right in the summer. Arsenal have been heavily linked with Samba and Gary Cahill in recent weeks and either would make a welcome addition to the defence. Both are quality tried and tested Premier League players which I think is of paramount importance as they won’t need time to adjust to the Premiership. I’m going to focus on Samba and why I think he would be an excellent signing for the Gunners and could make the difference next season.
What Arsenal lacked last season, that Chelsea had with John Terry, Man United with Nemanja Vidic and Man City with Vincent Kompany, was a strong, powerful defender with determination, athleticism and leadership skills. Chris Samba is blessed with all of those attributes and he would add the steel that was missing in the Arsenal defence last season. A defensive pairing of Samba and Vermaelen looks a very tasty proposition on paper and would certainly rough up opposing centre forwards. Samba’s no nonsense defending and physical presence is a throwback to Martin Keown and Tony Adams who were so successful for Wenger in their time under the Frenchman. Adding this dimension that has been missing from Arsenal’s defence can only enhance the team’s ambitions of lifting a trophy once more.
Arsenal are blessed with talent all over the park and if they can hold onto Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas this summer, adding a quality defender such as Samba to the mix could be the missing piece of the puzzle. There will still be many fans who think the goalkeeping situation is also an area of concern and even if Arsenal shore up the defence with a signing like Samba, not buying a quality keeper could still leave a trophy out of reach. Regardless of how Wenger acts in terms of a goalkeeper, I think buying either Samba or Cahill would bolster his leaky defence and make Arsenal more of a force.