It’s the Ekka Show Day public holiday in Brisbane today (don’t ask me to explain) and that means I was able to enjoy a beautiful bottle of red last night and a little bit of a sleep-in this morning. Excellent.
I’ve made the decision to switch the Arsenal FC Weekly podcast from Monday to Tuesday from next week onwards and Guest Post Tuesdays will become Guest Post Wednesdays as of today. As always though, before I get onto today’s guest post I just want to run through the latest Arsenal news:
- Johan Djourou has been sent home from international duty with Switzerland with a minor knee injury. It’s unsure as to whether the knock will keep him out of the team against Everton but it’s certainly not the greatest piece of news.
- Fabio Capello has admitted that Manuel Almunia is not in his England plans. Meanwhile, Almunia has commented on the height of our defensive options, stating that our previous problems have been more of an issue of attitude than size.
- Nicklas Bendtner is looking to sign a new contract with Arsenal.
- Former Arsenal striker John Hartson, who has recently been diagnosed and treated for testicular, lung and brain cancer, has been released from hospital.
And that is that for the news. Hopefully Hartson is enjoying being home with his family and hopefully Djourou pulls up OK for the weekend.
Onto today’s guest post now and John Law is back for a second go. He wrote the first ever Guest Post article for the Arsenal FC Blog about unsung hero Manuel Almunia and this time around he has written about the state of our defensive options, with the overall view that they will be good enough to challenge for the title this season.
I’m pretty sure this one will divide opinion so be sure to have your say on John’s article by leaving a comment.
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Why Arsenal do not need another centre back by John Law
Having opened up the guest post Tuesday section on Manuel Almunia, I was overwhelmed by all the positive comments I received from you all so thank you very much for that! However, when writing this one, I do not feel that the same praise of the article will be given as pretty much every other gooner I talk to disagrees with me on this particular topic! Anyway, in the next 1,300 words I am going to try and convince all of you why, in my opinion, Arsenal do not need to invest in a new centre back.
In my view, 3 top centre halves plus one or two others as extra cover is what one needs in that area to win the league and champions league and in my view Arsenal have just that. 4 world class centre halves is too many and needless transfer and wage money. Start not playing a world class centre half and all that will happen is he will want out. 3 is the magic number followed by one/ two adequate ones. Throughout this article, I will work from what I believe to be centre half choice number 1 to choice number 5.
Gallas, I believe I do not need to justify too much. Yes he had his problems as a captain and his character does not endear one but since stripped of the armband his performances were nothing but exceptional and it is my belief that he has and will be a world class centre half. With aggression, pace to burn, a superb tackle on him and ability on the ball, I believe that with the right partner, this man has everything. Add to these attributes his CV and abundance of experience; 31 years old, 8 seasons of premiership football, 72 caps for France (with a World Cup final in 2006), 2 premier league titles, a league cup, a community shield, a confederations cup and twice occurring in the PFA team of the year, the man is a world class defender and is the finished article. Enough said.
My belief is that Johan Djourou is now that perfect partner for Gallas. Having been with Arsenal since 2004, I feel young Djourou has been constantly progressing and it is now perfect timing for him to make the step up. Having improved year on year to cement himself as Arsenal’s first choice back up last year, there is one more step for him to make and that is to become 1st choice. He now has plenty of experience having spent half a season on loan at Birmingham and making 25 starts for Arsenal last year, playing in the premiership and champions league and has made a total of 77 appearances in an Arsenal shirt. Now we have cashed in on Kolo, the question in Arsenal’s current defence seems to be who is going to play alongside Gallas. My view on this is that Gallas, as stated above, has many attributes a top class defender needs and it is positive that he is going to be playing for us next year. However, to get the best out of him, I think he needs someone who is aerially dominant and at 6ft 4inches and with substantial strength, Djourou could just be that man.
When he came into the side last year, very little got past him and Gallas and given there is a clear void which has been left by Kolo, I really feel it is time for Djourou to step up and fulfil all that potential he clearly possesses. Attributes he has; strength, pace, good timing of the tackle, good positional awareness, ability on the ball and good in the air. I can’t think of much more a centre back needs? Where he has previously let himself down on occasions is lapses of concentration but I am confident that this is something which can be ironed out when one matures and my feeling is that he has played enough for this to happen. The only thing he now needs is a run in the side…..what better time than the present?
Having hopefully justified to you why my 1st choice pairing is going to be rock solid, the next question I must ask; is there suitable cover? If I am honest with you all, I do not know too much about Vermaelen. However, my feeling is that a 23 year old left footed centre back, formerly captain of Ajax, with plenty of champions league experience and many international caps under his belt, will be more than an adequate 1st choice back up and a suitable partner for both Gallas and Djourou. With the reputation of being commanding and aggressive, his attributes seem suitable for the English game and I simply do not believe Wenger would shell out £10million on a centre back who won’t be any good.
As mentioned earlier, I also think that at least one other adequate player is needed to provide sufficient depth and cover if there are a string of injuries in that area. I am not going to pretend I am a massive Silvestre fan. His performances in the semi finals of the FA Cup, the 4-4 league match vs Liverpool and the champions league semi-finals were, in my opinion, not far short of shambolic. Nevertheless, I do believe that players are allowed to make mistakes as they are human and in Silvestre and Song, I believe these two are more than enough to cover the 3 first choice men when needed. To me, Silvestre is experienced, has decent aerial ability, sound distribution, a fair amount of pace on him, and a fair sense of positioning with the eye for an occasional goal.
Over the course of last season, I actually thought Silvestre played well for most of his games in the league. He provides vast experience and a left footed centre half alongside Djourou, Gallas or Song balances the back four nicely. Experience is something which this Arsenal squad is light on and Silvestre provides that. With 4 premiership titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 2 Community Shields, 1 Champions League, an Intercontinental cup and 2 FIFA Confederation Cups, I hardly think that is too bad as a 4th choice and having seen him keep a lot of decent league strikers quiet last season, my belief is that although not world class, the man does the job and is as good as one can get for a 4th choice cover.
Even when there are 3 injuries to 4 of the previously mentioned players, I think that Song can also be adequate to shift to centre half for 4 or 5 games a season at least. When playing at Old Trafford in the 0-0 draw last season, not once did he look out of place. He now has experience under his belt and has developed tenacity last season which he previously seemed to lack. In possession of the ball he is fantastic and he seems to read the game exceedingly well, especially in the centre half position. Furthermore, given he is still young, the man is only going to go from strength to strength.
So there you have it! My belief is that those 5 players bring all the various attributes and qualities a side needs in the centre half department to win cups and titles. There is enough talent, experience and depth there to satisfy me that we do not need to delve into the market for another player. My feeling is if a super class player who would be ideal to the team set-up comes along at a bargain then it would be foolish to turn that down but unless that happens, I believe we should, and will stick with what we have and that other areas(i.e holding role) are in far more need of strengthening. Gallas, Djourou, Vermaelen, Silvestre and Song I have faith in you! Please do not let me down!
Have your say on the latest Arsenal news or John’s guest post by leaving a comment.