Good day everyone, I have been blogging about Arsenal on my personal blog since 2005 and since that period of time has seen the emergence of several Arsenal blogs, the personal favorite of mine being Arseblog followed closely by Gunnerblog and Goodplaya and A Cultured Left Foot. Unfortunately, outside of these 4 prominent ones I’m afraid there are many insensititve and poorly written blogs. As I have been blogging about Arsenal anyway, I’ve decided the time has come for me to consolidate all my Arsenal postings in one place instead of on my personal blog.
So on to the first post here.
For many of us Gooners who were crying out for a defensive signing, be it in central defence or in central midfield, this has got to be good news. For all the talk about Brede Hangeland or Sébastien Bassong being the targets, Arsenal went on to sign a player completely out of the media’s attention, which is typical Wenger (See Eduardo). If he turn out to have the same kind of impact as Eduardo did, then I’d be pleased.
All the talk about Arsenal needing height in the centre of defence is very much subjective. Personally, I think there i some truth in it but this tend to be overrated. Let’s put things in perspective: The season before the recently concluded one – our first choice central defensive pairing were Gallas and Toure, and the first choice defensive midfielder was Flamini. All 3 of whom are hardly giants in a league as tough as the Premier League.
But that didn’t stop Arsenal from being a genuine title contender for most of that season, until that game at Birmingham.
What I’m trying to say is, the concerns most Gooners have about Vermaelen’s height is overstated and should for now be left ignored. Let the Belgian show us what he can do defensively. There are world class defenders who are challenged vertically but has superb leap, much like Fabio Cannovaro. I have not noticed Vermaelen that much but I do know he can head the ball well, so let us continue our trust in Wenger on this one.
The biggest question now is, who is best to partner Vermaelen for next season? Let us take a look at the contenders:
William Gallas – For all the criticism leveled on the France international, let us not forget on his day he is a very good defender. Many have said that he is half the defender the used to be when he was at Chelsea. But personally I feel that he should never have been made captain and that has got to be one of Wenger’s few mistakes. Although this is a statement made in hindsight, as when we were leading the table, who were saying it was the wrong choice? It is people’s habit of saying ‘I told you so’ when things go wrong. I feel Gallas still have a lot of offer as his performances after the captaincy was stripped off him was the best he had in an Arsenal shirt. He has the experience too, something which we often complain we lack, so why sell him? But my concern is whether his heart is still with the club.
Kolo Toure – He is one of my all-time favorite players. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and works his socks off for the team. One can never doubt his commitment whenever he plays, even when he is having an off-day he never stop running, never stop trying. Therefore, to hear of his possible move to Manchester City is saddening. However, since his return from the last ACN and after contracting malaria, his pace (which is a big part of his defensive game) is no longer the same. This has affected his consistency against faster, world-class attackers. Will he regain his pace and consistency? At 28, time seem to be on his side but I have a bad feeling we have already seen the best of Toure. I sincerely hope he will prove me wrong.
Johan Djourou – Tall, strong, fast, technically sound. What more do you need of a defender? Experience and consistency of course. This will come with time, and playing opportunities which I feeel should be granted to him, given the current situation. His loan at Birmingham has in fact set him back as he was playing in central midfield for a technically poor side, thus he was quite apparently still adjusting to the pace of Arsenal’s passing when he returned last season. However, there is no doubt in my mind that he will become a top class defender one day. Will that day be sometime next season?
Philippe Senderos – Despite the harsh criticism leveled on him by Gooners all around the world, I actually think he has the qualities to be a top class defender. Most of the criticism began after he was out-muscled and outplayed by Didier Drogba. But tell me honestly, how many defenders in the world can keep Drogba quiet? For all his exprience in top flight football, Senderos is still only 23. Do anyone remember John Terry at 23? He was obviously talented but is prone to mistakes every game. Ditto Rio Ferdinand at 23. Look at the two of them now, best defenders in the Premier League, perhaps in Europe or the world. I say we take Senderos back, and give him another chance and be patient. He will blossom given the time and opportunity and I’d be gutted if I see him succeed elsewhere. The problem is I fear his opportunity is gone the moment Wenger released him on loan to Milan.
Mikael Silverstre – Multiple-title winning defender. That is the best I can say about him, but everyone can see his best years were at Manchester United. His inability to play at the top flight is made so obvious by Torres in that thrilling 4-4 draw last season it’s embarassing. He is not good enough for Arsenal, end of.
After listing the above, who would be your personal choice?
For me, it has to be Djourou followed by Gallas to partner Vermaelen. Toure can be our multi-functional defensive cover, if he stays.
Our next signing (hopefully there will be another one at least) should be a tough tackling, no-nonsense ball-winner. Again height should not be an issue. With that, we should be ready for next season.
In my next post, I will talk about this position, and the targets mentioned by the creative world media so far, as well as my personal choice.
Till then, sons of a Gun!