Reader opinion: Who are Arsenal’s first-choice central defensive pairing?

I’m currently working on a piece analysing each and every goal that Arsenal have conceded this season in a bid to identify any trends about our defensive problems. It’s quite an exhaustive task and as you can imagine, it’s taking some time.

Squillaci: First choice?

While I’m working on that I thought I’d throw a question out to the AFCB community about our current defensive options.

The question is: given that Tomas Vermaelen is out indefinitely with an achilles problem, who do you consider to be our current first-choice defensive pairing? Squillaci and Koscielny, Koscielny and Djourou or Djourou and Squillaci?

Let me know who you choose — and the reason why — in the comments.



  1. It’s hard to say, because sometimes I think that many of the goals conceded are not the fault of the centre-backs.

    Saying that, I prefer Squillaci-Djourou. Height, speed, sensibility all rolled into one pairing. If memory serves me right, this partnership coincided with the run of clean sheets we had recently.

    Koscielny has been good in bit-parts, but seems inconsistent. Also, lacks discipline.

    I have been pleased generally with Squiallici. He has performed well, despite being mostly anonymous.

  2. Do you know I was recently having a conversation with an AFC player of 25 years ago and we came to the same conclusion ie; (A) That AFC need a solid reliable UK CB to go with Vermaelen (Cahill ) (B) Kossy should be in DMF alongside Song and Squillaci should be back up with Djourou. This plus Gibbs as replacement for Clichy who is a very poor defender, and we will have the best back 6 we have ever had, well since the fab 6. This all assumes that Vermy will come back and AW has the guts to invest. The only problem we then have is a goalscorer like Eduardo….!

  3. I think Squillaci-Djourou without Vermaelen and
    Vermaelen-Squillaci with Vermaelen is best.

  4. I go with the pairing of Squillaci and Koscielny.
    Agreed that Koscielny has been rather inconsistant . But i have seen him play so well that i would have opted him as MOTM in certain matches. The Calmer head of Squillaci plus the rather pacier Koscielny should be the good combo.
    Djourou has been performing well but i know that he will definitely struggle against pacier forwards. I remember him being taken apart by Trevez. So if Arsenal are to maintain their style of playing in a
    High-Line of defense, I suggest going for my pairing as the pacier Koscielny could use his pace to work in his favour. Him taking on Torres comes to mind.

    Djourou gives the height advantage and always comes handy while defending against set-pieces.
    So if we are playing teams with less-mobile but TALL forwards but should employ Djourou .

  5. Ist choice pairing:
    Squill / Vermaelen
    rotating Kos and Djourou to keep everyone fresh.

    w/o Vermaelen, any pairing from Squill/ Kos / Djourou has been effective.

  6. On current form:

    Vermaelen – Djourou (Vermaelen is fit)
    Djourou – Squillaci (Vermaelen isn’t fit)

    In a few years though, I think that a Vermaelen – Koscielny partnership could become legendary.

  7. Good idea, will be interesting, unfortunately I suspect counter attacking goals from lost possessions will feature quite a lot.
    Right now, Squillaci-Djourou is the best. But the problem with defence is that its only as good as your weakest link. If the midfield and full backs don’t cover or make mistakes, you’re exposed. Our overall defensive mentality is not good.

  8. I think Squillaci-Djourou without Vermaelen and
    Vermaelen-Squillaci with Vermaelen is best.
    Koscielny has been too inconsistent. we often let in goals when he plays. but He can still improve.


  9. i would go with Squillaci and Djourou. upon Vermaelen come back, then to be paired with Squillaci.

  10. I thank, prefer Squillaci-Djourou. because Djourou is more concise and active to read the mach easily.

  11. My choice goes out to the pairing of Squill aci and Djourou! I think Koscielny hasnt’ really adapted to the English game yet. From time to time he makes good interceptions and you can see this guy has potential, but sometimes he goes in rather recklessly. And since beeing back to full fitness, Djourou has been pretty solid. But I still think we should by some more experienced defensive cover. Looking forward to the january transfer window!

  12. Djourou is probably our best defender. Yeah, I now my opinion is a bit off the general hype.

    This season games WITH Djourou: 8-0-2
    This season games WITHOUT Djourou: 6-2-4

    He started the season with some terrible displays in preseason and for the reserves. He needed 6-8 games before he started to stand out, and I don’t blame him for his rusty start. I firmly beleive JD is our best defender, and I think he has a good chance to be a legend in Arsenal – and internationally recognized.

  13. Best pairing so far this season for me is JD and the Squid. Not sure if the stats will back this up but it seems to me we’ve had more stability with those two together. Kozzer looks an excellent prospect but maybe a little too easily flustered at this stage even though some of his last ditch tackles and headers have been spectacular. When TV returns it’ll be a question of who forms the best partnership with him- but I’m a fan of Big Johan and like his height and pace

  14. The answer to your question is non of our defenders are good enough to be first choice at (Arsenal) a top 4 club. TV, Squid and Kozz are incompatible i.e. to small and weak aerially to play CB. Ironically it is the defender who cost us the least that could conceivably make the grade and that is Djourou who has been putting in some half decent performances. For teams who rely on the long ball game… forget that regardless of the physical attributes of the opposing team Kozz and Djourou are/should be our best defensive partnership because they are the most compatible to the physical and height requirements of the PL. Squid is pretty mediocre and a squad player. I rate both our CB acquisitions as mediocre but Kozz does have a slight physical edge on the Squid and therefore gets the nod. It is fairly obvious that our new CB’s must have been 4 or 5th ranked choice and shocking how on earth they could figure on a transfer candidate list for a top 4 club. Notice how many aerial battles are lost expecially on the edge of our box (set pieces) allowing the opposition to breach our backline with ease. I guess aerial prowess and height are not basic prerequisites for the Arsenal defensive candidates……..shocking. For your goals conceded analysis Clichy piss poor heading allowed Spurs to score the first (Defoe won the header from Clichy after a long ball from Assou-Ekotto), Clichy was also at fault for the Sunderland equaliser losing another aerial battle.

  15. I prefer Koscielny to Djourou with Squillaci. and seems Wenger agrees with me too and after Verminator comes back Best pair would be Koscielny and Vermalen cause of their style of playing will go well together.

  16. Koscieny & Squillaci. These two play for Le Bleus. So linking is easier,in that they can easily communicate for cordination. Here expirience comes in for better performance!

  17. I agree with Darragh. Squillaci has been solid and consistent, which is what’s needed in a centre half (spectacular and inconsistent will still lead to conceded goals). Djourou has worked quite well with Squillaci and has his own skills, strength and height to contribute. I worried about him a game or two back, but overall he’s doing quite well.

    Biggest problem with Koscielny is his inconsistency and risk-taking. It has seen him take a red card recently when it really wasn’t necessary. I think he can be a great defender, but needs to mature as a player first.

  18. Should be Squil and Verm, I have a good feeling about that combination. Sort of the feeling you get when you see a double rainbow.

    Kos isn’t that bad but I think its a bit unfair to judge him after 15 games, I really hope we give him untill January. Coupled with the fact that none of the new defenders have the chance to pair up with Verm.

    Djo is a good enough back up, Arsene should not sell him yet.

  19. Koscielny and Djourou. To be honest with the exception of Vermalen none of our central defenders are up to the task. Both of the above have positional issues and they are both bad for losing their opponent in the box. Squillaci can’t read the game and his lack of pace is proving a major problem. Arsene needs to buy a quality centre back to partner Vermalen when he returns. I think both Sagna and Clichy looked solid but its our central defence and keepers that have let us down badly and will continue to do so.

  20. squillaci and djourou any day.

    Djourou will get better and better whereas koscielny is good at getting himself out of the trouble he gets himself in, but not always (see spurs last week).

    Djourou is also great in the box

  21. On current form, they all merit a starting place in the squad. Kos came back well against Villa from his disappointing Spurs outing. I dont even care who plays in the defense…maybe Song and Nordveit should pair up soon for us since everybody is shouting about the defense.

    The Madrid defense that has been doing so well so far just shipped in five at once. So, what happened? If we can answer this simple question, I think we can find all our DEFENSIVE answers there.

    The barcelona counters/through passes were at least DEVASTATING. Can you imagine the clinical finishing on display? While Madrid had the fool Benzema in front, Barcelona paraded the lethal Villa…the rest is history. I think we should really analyse the way Barca plays, so we could cue from there.

    Finally, our defense is not the problem in this team. Look how the Barcelona midfield and attack kept out Madrid from their end of the pitch.

  22. Andy my good man that question is like askin me would I prefer a kick in the nuts or a punch in the nuts, neither option will have pretty results.
    Ok I have to stick to my guns on Squillachi, I dont wanna be harsh for the sake of it but he is not good enough, he is an accident waiting to happen, he is an adequate defender but hardly strikes fear into the hearts of the Rooneys or Drogbas, he has no presence in our box when a set play or cross comes in and his clearances, if you can call them that, more often than not land at an opponents feet in a favourable position, most recently at Villa where Clark was the benfactor, last one before that was away to Shaqtar where he panicked and scuffed it five yards to an opponent whos shot whislted a few inches past fabianskis left post….most of you may overlook these errors as we wernt punished but its only a matter of time my friends, he was bought to shore things up and bring experience, thats not happening if anything were shipping more goals and chances.
    I could go on allday Andy but I guess my answer is a 100% Djourou Koscielny partnership, which I think has only occured once, in the carling cup win at spurs where we were solid defensively, so how no-one else has stated a case for it I dont know.

  23. Not sure it matters. It’s the conceding of possession/giving away free kicks in midfield that leads to most of our problems. Here’s another question for you tho’: who of the 4 CBs (Djorou, TV, Kosc and Squil) would get a start in the Manure or Chelsea 1st XI? I reckon TV would be the only one. Which sums it up for me.

  24. They is a lesson to be learnt from yesterday’s Barcelona vs Real Madrid match which is that, you enemies – your top contenders you deal with them yourself.

  25. coscielny and djourou because they are still young , have stamina,can run compared 2 squillaci It is unfortunate that coscielny is short tempered.

  26. Fantastic idea to analyse every goal conceded, Andrew. When you’ve finished the thesis will you please send a copy of it to Arsene and label it ‘urgent’. Seriously.

  27. By all standards our defense is not so pathetic as some may think. The high line game we make hardly makes any defender good because the issue now comes to who is better positioned to run against the attacking striker. If we our defenders had positional discipline and left only the wing backs to attack then all are as well as good. But i would on any day include Jorou to any pairing available because of his height, passion and premiership experince. He is just the perfect match for Vermalen. He can defend aerial threats in box and read the game well while verminator can take set pieces and score headers when called upon which clearly reminders us of match winning headers Koscienly has stupidly bluffed over the bar against Chelsea and Spurs.

  28. Sincer Wenger just announced that he has no intention of buying new players in the january window, that means we’ll have to deal with what we have now. I’ve done quite a reading on the opinions subjected on this blog especially when we lost to Tottenham and I tend to agree with the fans that opt for a change in strategy rather than going for new players. It’s true, we concede a lot of goals, we need to play defence by the book on some occasions, but maybe we also need to give a chance to Koscielny and Squillaci, who are at their first season in EPL. Also, if I recall well, Djourou was missing almost the whole last season. This being said, to be full on-topic, I would go for Djourou and Koscielny, because Squilacci seems to be missing his form from the early games, when he was paired with Koscielny and maybe, like someone said here, he wasn’t meant to play so many matches [even though you could apply the same argument for Kosc :P]. Djourou seems to have a lot of potential but he needs more games, and Koscielny seems to me the most ambitoius of the three. They’re all young, they need to learn, they failed us and will fail us some more, but Wenger’s mentality – and the club’s mentality for that matter – is not to spend millions on footbal stars, but to spot potential. And for what it’s worth, I would rather have this team working incredibly hard to win than to spend 100 millions and be like every other big club out there. I would like, for once, to see the potential fulfilled, and that’s the reason for my choice here.

  29. That’s a tough one really.
    Djourou has height, and is fairly pacy with good ball control. Doesn’t read the straight ball over the top that well though. Of course, pace helps in that regard.
    Koscielny’s tackling is superb but again his reading of the game is a bit suspect. Also needs to be stronger. Can definitely take a hit though. Offensively he’s missed 2 certain goals 🙁
    Squillachi reads the game quite well really. If only he was a little bit quicker. But the one major advantage apparently is that he organizes the defense around him really well.

    Hmmmm.. At the moment, Squillachi and Djourou I guess, though its a little harsh on Koscielny. I do think in a few months he and Djourou can form a great partnership. But then you have to add TV5 into the mix(hopefully) and it all becomes jumbled again.. hmmm

    Bit of a tough one really 🙂

  30. Sad as I am to say it, Clichy must be dropped/rested from the team at the moment. I really do love Clichy. He has a passion for the team and he does give it his all. He was with the invincibles too, which seems just incredible. I almost keep forgetting that. Question is, does the pride he show in the shirt overweigh the momentary lapses that he shows? With Keiran Gibbs waiting in the wings, right now I believe the answer has to be no.

    If Vermaelen’s injury doesn’t clear up I think we should probably buy a central defender who can also play Left back. Unless we have someone in our youth ranks who can be relied upon to do the job as a backup.

    Sorry to go slightly off topic Andrew, but thinking about the defense just led me to this.

  31. For me Squilaci and Kościelny… Djorou is to slow and not confident enough. He’s making to many mistakes. When Verminator comes back i want to see him with Kościelny in the middle defence 🙂

  32. Defense: Squiler + TV, just like everyone says.


    Sometimes I feel like Clichy is right on the money. Take last game for example, his speed and hustle made Aston Villa turnover the ball countless times and held a threatening role on offense. And I know you are not the only one saying this so really I’m looking for more of an explanation than an argument. What’s wrong with Clichy?

  33. hahhahhah Gunneraboss, are u talking abt Barcelona. Not too long ago u claimed that Joe Cole, Gerrard and Torres wer way better then Pedro, Messi, and Villa. Wow..u have changed withing months. Good for u. hahhahha

  34. @Ali

    Clichy had a great game against Villa. Not denying that. He just seems to make and keep making crucial errors. Maybe he’s just unlucky in that the mistakes he makes tend to lead to goals, but it really has been going on for quite some time now.. I think Gibbs deserves a run out to see how he can do. I have nothing against Clichy and I most certainly wouldn’t sell him. I just think we let in avoidable goals too often and maybe a change might be for the better.

  35. @Shard

    I feel you. Maybe he needs a rest as you mentioned, just like Arshavin. Today would be a great chance for Gibbs to start, don’t you think?

  36. @Ali

    Gibbs was always gonna start this game think, but there you go 🙂 Clichy is really good for the most part, and for that reason is hard to drop. Basically it must be why Wenger hasn’t done so. But giving Gibbs a go might make Clichy concentrate even better. I dunno though. Anyway, onto the next thread..

  37. djouro has potential and he seems to have been perfoming very weell. However, obvoisly wenger realises this and yet he still gives Kos the start. KOS and Tv will be our long term option. wenger is not stupid and he would not buy KOS if he was not full of potental. My prediction is that KOS will be a first choice center back for france and a gem from wenger

  38. 4 me,my 1st choice are sqillachi n kolscieny,bcos they are both more experience than johan.

  39. At the moment it looks like Squillaci and Koscielny, but I personally prefer Squillaci and Djourou. When he’s fit I’m sure Vermaelen will be first choice, partnered by Squillaci. I think Djourou has been very unlucky not to oust Koscielny recently.

  40. This is tricky, and it really depends on who you rate and why. Here’s how I see it.
    A Kos-Squil pairing misses Djou’s aerial ability, a Djou-Squil pairing misses Kos’ tackling ability and a Kos-Djou pairing misses Squil’s experience. I’d take Djou-Squil against taller, stronger teams, and Kos-Squil against faster teams. When Vermaelan comes back, I’d say Kos-Verm since Vermaelen brings strength and aerial ability, while Koscielny brings the speed and tackling. Also, this is the pairing for the future so they should play together. Ideally, Koscielny learns the English game better, bulks up, and we’d have a solid CB pairing. Right now, I think the problem is the rotation occurring in the back 2. But then again, our goals conceded is pretty good right now, so I don’t know how much of a problem our defense is.

  41. There comes a time earlier this season when I though Squillaci – Koscielny partnership was amazing, and was our best in recent years. But it’s all downhill for Kos from there. He seems inconsistent now. So, Squillaci-Djorou for now. Koscielny-Vermaelen on their best.

  42. The pair of two Frenchmen has not worked out, so I would like to see Squillaci-Djourou or Koscielny-Djourou. We really need at least one man who can deal with the long-high balls dropping in our 16m50 area.

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