on Questions of Defensive Depth

A hint at the team to come arrived with the manager’s words of praise for Mathieu Debuchy following his performance in the centre of the defence in the recent cup matches.

With injuries plaguing the defence and more importantly, the visit to Manchester City at the weekend, Debuchy will return to the starting line-up tomorrow night. Arsène observed at the weekend how the coaching staff “are all very pleased for him because he has been through some very difficult moments with setbacks.”

“Setbacks” is an understatement. Once the obvious candidates of Diaby and Wilshere are passed, it’s hard to think of a player whose Arsenal career has been so undermined by injury. When he signed following Bacary Sagna’s departure, he seemed like a decent ‘interim’ right back while younger players came through.

It was a horrible spell between September 2014 and the end of that season. Debuchy missed two blocks of three months thanks to ankle ligament damage followed by Arnautovic’s unnecessary shove into the hoardings. A hamstring the following season robbed him of any semblance of an Arsenal future.

When called upon since, his positional play was all over the place; a player completely bereft of confidence. Zagreb, Tottenham; his 24 first team appearances since joining the club include some real horror shows.

His misfortune presented the younger players with their opportunities and Hector Bellerin took full advantage. Between the two, you’d be hard pushed to find people who would select Debuchy ahead of the Spaniard. Particularly in the right wing-back slot now operated.

To be honest, the back three has lasted longer this season than I thought it would. Arsène’s comments about re-inventing the wheel last year hinted at a quick return to a back four.

Looking for Some Gold in Dirty Water

It hasn’t happened and Debuchy’s reinvention as a central defender came from necessity rather than desire. At 32, he knows his career is winding down and who can blame him for wanting to leave in pursuit of first team football?

It hasn’t happened and under contract until 2019 at Arsenal, it’s hard to see him leaving unless we waive a fee.

So he pitches in tomorrow in the centre of defence, until Calum Chambers returns at least. Possibly, in the nightmare scenario of right wing-back. Defensive duties in that role are an optional extra at times so Debuchy would be fine there.

Chillingly, Arsène added, “From now on, he will be a candidate to fight for the team places again.”

It’s another square peg in round hole scenario and begs the question of the back three. Monreal, Koscielny and Mustafi are the first string; Holding, Chambers and Mertesacker the second, surely? Debuchy only really fits in through injury.

There’s the question of right wing-back, challenging Hector Bellerin. If Debuchy’s the answer to that question, it’s all going horribly wrong in terms of the squad. There’s too big a gap between the first team and academy if the reserve right back has rescued his career from oblivion, as a centre back.

It strikes me that we’re keeping the Frenchman on at the expense of promoting youngsters for the Carabao Cup – a competition Wenger has no love for – and the Europa League. Surely in the former, that’s the wrong way of looking at the situation?

Run Away to Some Promised Land

All of which is harsh on Debuchy. He’s done little wrong beyond making a bad career choice in leaving Newcastle United for Arsenal in what well be the worst buy of Arsène’s career. And with Francis Jeffers as competition, that’s some claim to stake.

Or is this just a bit of old flannel just to keep Debuchy chipper, knowing that at the first opportunity we’ll ditch him. The first offer which comes along is likely to be accepted and they will suit both parties, I think.

Until then, when he pulls the red and white shirt on, the best of British to him.

’til Tomorrow.

69 thoughts on “on Questions of Defensive Depth

  1. Good stuff Yogi.

    The decisions of the summer continue to be baffling and its not even about hindsight, its what was taking place then and now into the season they are even more baffling. Chambers was injured, Debuchy was the Debuchy of Arsenal, Holding’s confidence was low, Kos was injured and Mert is set to retire so we sold Gabriel. Debuchy at CB doesn’t fill me with confidence, he was always a decent defender but him moving to CB is different than Nacho moving. Nacho was always a good defender and has showed that since he joined Arsenal (yea that first half season was rough but since then he has been superbly consistent).

    Personally, I would rather give the likes of DaSilva and Sheaf a run -out and once Bielik is back he should be getting starts ahead of Debuchy.

  2. Great post Yogi.

    I think it will be almost impossible to off load Debuchy. He is no where close to good enough to play for a bigger team but his Arsenal wages are way to high for any middle size or smaller team. There is not a single one of us bloggers who would take a significant pay cut to facilitate a move if we were in Debuchy’s position. This Arsenal contract is going to be his last big contract and he needs to make as much as he possibly can before he retires. If the choice for him is between more playing time and having few million pounds extra in the bank to help his family when he retires then the choice is pretty easy.

  3. Hi C, and good morning All, 🙂

    As you know my views are very similar to yours, C, and we have already agreed that the logic of what has happened in many instances lately are incomprehensible to fans without inside knowledge of the reasons for the management doing some things that are difficult to understand.

    So my thoughts are modified a little in that applying logic (such as I have) where something such as the players contracts being neglected, meaning the club are likely to lose North of £100 million, or not having a plan to buy suitable alternatives in the transfer market, when the first choice players are not available last summer – then I have to give some credence to the fact the club – for whatever reason – were not in control.

    The reason for things being apparently outside of the control of the management in those respects (no one person is likely to be totally responsible) is even more worrying.

    Dodgy decision making is one thing, but events outside the control of the club is a whole lot more serious. Of course, this is idle speculation, but like in math when an equation does not figure — there is usually something missing.

  4. Yogi.

    I think we over emphasize the whole notion of square pegs and round holes. The most recent example is everyone blaming Bellerin’s struggles earlier this season on Arsene playing him at left wing back. However the reality is that Bellerin did such a miserable job of playing defense at RB last season that he had to be dropped. His form this season has been just as underwhelming at RWB as he was at LWB. We tend to look for excuses to explain long runs of poor form for players we like. However for the most part players are responsible for their own form. Short runs of poor form happen to most players. However, The vast majority of times when a player goes on a long sustained run of poor form like Bellerin the explanation is that the player is not as good as we thought.

  5. Hello, Bill, 🙂

    I tend to agree with what you have said regarding the ageing Debuchy – or at least the perspective from his point of view.

    The use of the terms ‘needs to make more money’ and ‘to help his family’ grates and I have little sympathy, given he has already earned millions of $$ more than any of us will earn in 10 lifetimes.

    But you are right — I suspect all of us would stick it out, for the reasons you give, if we had that chance.

  6. C

    I think you over rate Gabriel. He was certainly never very good with Arsenal. However, I think bigger reason he was sold was because Arsene wanted to dump some wages and he was able to find someone willing to take Gabriel. I think that is a big part of the reason he tried to sell Mustafi and Elneny and Chambers. There was no way he could sell players like Debuchy, Campbell, Perez and it was a struggle to sell Gibbs

  7. HenryB,

    Morning mate!

    I agree with you that there are some things that are out of the clubs control, the problem that I havr is that the players that were sold(Szczesny and Gabriel) are positions that we need not only upgrades but help in and yet 2 players that would have done both were sold and we are again led to believe that Ospina (who Arsene and Arsenal tried to unsuccessfully sell) and the likes of Holding (confidence and play has been shattered), Debuchy (meh at best) are better than Szczesny and Gabriel(a whole lot better than he gets credit for and thr only thing you hear why he left was because of not grasping full English).

    O well 🙄

  8. Debuchy at RWB is certainly not an exciting thought. However, based on what we he have seen from Bellerin at that position so far Debuchy would probably not be a a real downgrade in performance. I can’t think of many other options at that position.

  9. Bill,

    I don’t think Gabriel was as bad as people try to make him out to be, not saying he was the 2nd coming of the next great CB but surely he was better than Holding, Debuchy, Mert and more reliable than the Kos’ fitness. If the reason we sold Gabriel and Szczesny and tried to sell Mustafi and Elneny waz because we couldn’t get rid of Ospina, Debuchy and whoever else than that makes absolutely no sense to me from a competitive standpoint.

  10. Have to say that some of the comments about Bellerin are a bit harsh. He’s still young and relatively inexperienced, especially for a defender who traditionally peak in their later years. He’s shown that he has the ability but is going through a tough patch. Being linked with Barca will not have helped either. I expect that he will come good again and that he has the quality to have a long career at the club. Should Arsene leave and we employ a manager who takes more of an interest in coaching defence that would probably help too. Expecting a young player to work through his own issues with minimal support because we don’t have the expertise we should have is a poor strategy. You only have to recall what Szczesny said about the coaching to realise that there is more to this than just the player’s ability.

  11. andy1886,

    Completely agree and the one thing that you can’t say is that its through lack of trying, he makes a couple good defensive plays a game but he is going through a rough patch. The other thing that doesn’t help is the revolving door a RCB behind him. You have heard some of the best defenders in the history of futbol talk about part of defending is having trust in the players beside you. I think the other thing is that he is still learning to play RB and now he is being asked to learn a completely different position as a RWB.

  12. Bill,

    Watching the Chelsea game last night I was interested in Rio Ferdinand’s comments after the game. He was specifically talking about defenders playing out of position and how errors can arise when a defender lines up in a different position in defence. He was talking about Rudiger’s decision to leave the ball for Roma’s second goal and whilst he wasn’t excusing the mistake he was highlighting that lining up on a different side of the defence to your normal position has a significant impact on a player’s performance. In particular, he was highlighting that a naturally left-sided defender used to viewing the game from that side of defence may not adapt well if asked to play on the right side of defence. I flagged this as an issue for Kos some time ago when he was paired with TV5. I felt that Kos struggled when playing alongside TV5 as he was required to play on the right side of the defence, although naturally being a left-sided player. I’m not saying that is the only reason for Bellerin’s poor performances, but playing out of position can’t help matters.

  13. Ramsey is another example of a player that most of us crucified Arsene for playing him at wide right forward. Many of us thought he would immediately regain the form he had in 13/14 if he moved back to center midfield. However, now that he has moved back to best position, he probably divides opinion as much as any player in our squad. I am not suggesting that players should be used out of position if we have better options. However, good players can adjust their game and they might lose some degree of effectiveness but their game should not just drop off a cliff and they can help the team if forced to play in a position which is not considered their best. Bellerin is a good example. Clearly he is not a LWB because he does not have much of a left foot. However, he should still be able to defend on the left. The problem is that he is just not a solid defender no matter where he plays

  14. Bill,

    To be honest I don’t believe that Bellerin is tasked with being a solid defender first and foremost. Like Ramsey, I think that he’s doing the job that the manager has asked him to do. Arsene doesn’t see our full backs or wing backs if you prefer as true defenders, he sees them as providing attacking width and their defensive role is secondary. Even when we had four at the back how many times were we caught out with our full backs in the opposition half?

    Give our players to a manager who can organise a defence and I’d bet my bottom dollar that we’d improve significantly almost over night. As C said Gibbs says that Pulis has made him a better defender already, probably by simply stressing his defensive obligations and drilling him with his colleagues on the training pitch. Basic stuff.

  15. Bill,

    Hm, no, I don´t think Ramsey divides opinon much anymore. Think it´s fairly clear he´s an arsenal legend in the makíng.

    You don´t get to score 50 goals (and no pens), deciding two fa-cups, coming back from a dreadful injury, nailing the dutch scunk to the floor, possible captain without having something je ne sais qoui 🙂

  16. Good morning from South Beach, Miami. Back in the US for a wedding.
    I’m liking it here – it’s a little bit loco.

    Nice post mister – yeah that Arnautovic foul was much more cunty than its lack of punitive repercussions suggested. The damage to Debuchy’s playing career has certainly been keenly felt by the player even if the fans have been anything but sympathetic. 🙂

  17. Back to Debuchy, I also think its crystal clear that some things are being made up as we go along. I mean the fact that Arsene and Arsenal literally tried to give him away and now he is talkes about as challenging for match time is the stuff of legend I suppose and not in a good way. As I said, it makes more sense to play the likes of Dasilva, Beliek and even Sheaf in the Europa and Carabou Cup to see what we have then to play Debuchy who has publicly crucified the club and Arsene on a couple of occassions but has also but told he haa no future at the club.

  18. Jonny,

    South Beach, the party that only stops to hydrate, tan and workout.

    Spent many a days and nights down there when I lived in FL, be careful or before you know it you’ll wake up in a bed with 2 gorgeous nakes beauties on either side of you wondering what happened….or was that just what happened to me😉

  19. Henry

    Players make a lot of money while they are playing but there window of opportunity is very short and it can end very quickly and unexpectedly. They will never have the opportunity to earn that sort of money again so what they make while they are playing has to last their families for the rest of their lives which assuming reasonable health is probably 40 -50 years. I certainly understand why players would be reluctant to accept wage cuts. A player like Elneny would have been much better off from a playing time standpoint by moving to a smaller club but I understand why he would want to stay.

  20. ‘afternoon all, fine post Yogi thank you.

    First off Debuchy, we’ve got him and he’s fit at last, he has a fair bit of Premiership experience (with Newcastle) and he has been an international regular for France. It seems that in Wenger’s mind there’s no difference between a centre back, a full back, a wing back or, indeed, left or right, so why not use him?

    The upcoming match with Red Star is the ideal opportunity to try him out. It’s not a must win game for us but it is against a side with something to prove.

    Our defence is creaking under the pressure of age and chronic injuries as well as Koscielny’s propensity to gather cards both yellow and red.

    I’ve not seen enough evidence of defensive nous from either Nelson or Maitland-Niles to warrant their promotion to the first team squad as yet so the addition of an experienced defender such as Debuchy is to be welcomed.

    Incidentally, as others have said, we’re stuck with the bloke so we should make the most of him.

  21. Andy

    Bellerin is another of the dozens and dozens of examples of a young player who seems to start really well but instead of getting better as they mature they hit a plateau that is much lower then we expect. Its not just an Arsenal thing and it happens to a lot.

    Perhaps I am a bit harsh on Hector but I always thought we highly over rated his ability as a defensive player but we also over rate his ability to have a positive influence on the attacking end of the pitch. He has eye catching pace and it was fun to watch him run up and down the right wing. The eye catching gets us excites and causes us to over rate players but eye catching is not the same as effective.

  22. Bill,

    Many (too many?) less than average former players make a very good living as pundits on TV while others climb aboard the managerial carousel where the rewards are even better if for limited periods only.

  23. Wavey

    I am not suggesting that moving to the opposite side of the pitch would not affect a player and it might increase the chance of making an occasional mistake especially on the defensive end of the pitch. However performances should not just fall off a cliff. You don’t go from being a quality player at RWB to a complete shambolic mess if you are asked to move to the left.

  24. Orson

    Those former players who get the great high paying, high profile jobs as pundits or managers are in a significant minority. I don’t have any statistics but i suspect the vast majority of former players end up coaching football at a high school or if they are lucky may be being a sports reporter for the 6 PM news on a local TV station or something like that.

  25. Orson

    Most defenders regress in Arsène’s system but we are stuck with him and to my eye Hector was always over rated but that is just me

  26. This summer we were trying to understand why Roma did not want to keep Wojo. The only options were they did not think he was as good as we do or they did not think he was a good teammate to have in the dressing room or his wages were out of proportion to his value to the team. I think we can assume wojo wages were higher then it should have been. From an arsenal standpoint i think Cech is our GK for the next 2-3 years and there is no way we should pay world class wages for wojo who would be a back up GK

  27. To my eye we have not seen Bellerin effectiveness improve significantly since he moved back to the right. We can’t use a lingering injury as an excuse anymore.

  28. Bill,

    I don’t think Bellerin was overrated, under-coached more like. If Gibbs comments are to be believed, maybe Arsenal should offer Pulis the job of defensive coach. Next time he gets sacked that is.

  29. If we think that defensive players struggle in Arsene’s system then look at his record with GK in the Emirates era. A lot of people are down ion Cech and think he is losing it. However consider which system he plays with. Wojo had 5 seasons to figure it out and it was a mess. There is certainly reason to worry that wojo would fall back to his old habits if he came back The idea that wojo would be an upgrade over Cech in our system is a stretch. I can understand why Arsène would have been reluctant to give wojo the long term high dollar contract that would have been needed to keep him as a back up

  30. Bill,

    Actually mate, Roma wanted to keep him and tried to keep him but failed to meet Arsenal’s evaluation of 10-13m for him. Unlike in the PL, clubs don’t spend wildly for GK’s, I mean FFS Pickford went for 30m, that would ONLY happen in the PL.

    Its funny but you take a very US sports view on things. For instance, you talk about players switching sides but you like I know it can be drastically different especially for young players. It would be lile taking a first baseman and third baseman and telling them to swap positions and asking them to be equally as effective, hell its hard for even left fielders and right fielders to switch positions. Its the same with futbol, asking a RB to be effective as a LB is madness.

  31. Orson.

    Perhaps that is true about Bellerin being under coached. The only way to know would be to see what happens if he went to another team. One of theproblems for Bellerin is you automatically compare him to Nacho and Hector really suffers in that comparison. Same with Clichy playing opposite of Sagna. The reality is that clichy was never really that good and he never got that much better he moved and Bellerin and clichy/Gibbs is legitimate comparison IMO

  32. Switching from 1st base to 3rd is not a legitimate analogy. They are completely different positions. A much better analogy would be moving from right field to left field and players do that all the time

    If what you say was true about Hector then his effectiveness would have improved signiificantly when he moved back to the right and that has not happened. At some point we have to stop using the he is s still young excuse

  33. Bill,

    I have to disagree with you over Clichy and especially Sagna, both were deemed to be not worth keeping, but both went on to have extended careers at Manchester City.

    Clichy was member of the Arsenal Invincibles, he was included in the

  34. …….continued…….he was included in the PFA team of the year 2007/08 after appearing in all 38 Arsenal league games. Gibbs was his replacement.

    Wenger neither understands defensive football nor values defenders.

  35. How long do you keep a player in your line up and accepting suboptimal performance because he is still young and you believe that he is on the cusp of greatness? We did that with Ox and Wojo and Mil Bendtner etc etc and how did that turn out?

  36. C

    Juve paid $10M for wojo which is not that much for a supposedly world class GK in any league. The bottom line was Roma did not think wojo’s value to the team equaled the cost of his fee plus wages.

    I am not suggesting that we jettison Hector at this point because we don’t have any other options. However if someone like Barca or Man City would really offer us big money I would gladly take the money to buy someone better. Kolasinac was a lucky break but good RWB’s are not like a goal scoring CF and good RWB’s are not a scare commodity. I don’t think it would take huge money to upgrade

  37. C,

    I was wandering around making a nuisance of myself when I came across this item in a French Foot journal.
    —- “Charly Musonda a annoncé à Chelsea qu’il voulait partir. Arsenal déjà en contact avec le joueur pour un transfert cet hiver.”

    Which translates as,
    —- “Charly Musonda has told Chelsea that he wants to leave them. Arsenal are already in touch with the player to discuss a transfer this winter.”

    What do we know about him? Is he any good? Do we think he would improve out midfield?
    Alternatively, do you figure he is just using Arsenal as a way to get more money and/or more minutes?

    If he is a good player he would be a cheaper alternative to Lamar who does not seem to want to join us anyway.

    We need to know C — (altho blogging about possible transfers is not as exciting as waking up as the meat in a naked beauty sandwich.) You lucky dude!! 😀

  38. I do feel like there’s a bit of revisionism going on with respect to Debuchy. When he signed, I think the consensus thought was that he was an excellent addition to the team. Obviously, injury has plagued him largely since then, but I don’t think he a bad player. I certainly wouldn’t put him in the same category as some of the horrendous defenders that have played for Arsenal (I’m looking at Cygan, Senderos, Silvestre, Eboue, Squillaci etc). Hoping that he takes this chance and proves himself, at least in the short term.

  39. DESNJ,

    You have a good point there regarding Debuchy, altho Arsene had been trying hard to shift him out of the club up to and including last summer.

    He certainly was a very competent right back up until the start of his injury jinx, which unfortunately for him came at a tricky age for a footballer, as hitting the big 30 most of them start to lose some of their physical qualities.

    It is possible he has worked hard in training and started to show he is recovering, from injury anyway, and enough to impress Wenger. The cynic in me feels it is AW using him as a make weight because of injury problems to others, who when they return will reclaim their positions in the team.

    I simply do not understand the motivation for the club to make so light of the CB position, with some very odd selections, including an antique CB, in good old Per, sandwiched between a succession of RWBs and LWBs none if whom are known for playing that position before, except in an emergency.

    City’s pacey and skilful forwards are likely to murder them. 🙁

  40. Bill,

    I doubt it was that simple mate, it rarely if ever is. I will do some more digging and see what I can find out.

    Bellerin, lets be honest here, its not all about pace, he has good to really good instincts but like so many he is having a rough patch, doesn’t mean you just get rid of him. I mean look at Barca, they thought it was simply easy to find a RB replacement for Alves yet it wasn’t and now they have bought their 3rd RB and he is finally working out kind of. Buying and selling isn’t nearly as simple as you make it and why buy when we have a 22 year old who has loads and loads if talent it just needs to be refined.

  41. C

    Last season we blamed Arsene for Bellerin’s form and the excuse was he came back from injury before he was ready. Early this season we again tried to shift blame to Arsene for playing him on the left and now that he is back on the right we are running out of excuses. The only thing we can fall back on now is that he is still young and still learning but he is still on the cusp of greatness and its only a matter of time. How many times have we used that only to find out that we end up paying a very high opportunity cost for all of those minutes we gave the player hoping he will finally come good. A player is responsible for his own form and Bellerin’s rough patch has lasted close to 1 year. Top quality players have short runs of bad form but history quite clearly tells us that when players hit long runs of consistent poor form the usual explanation is that we heavily over rated the player in the first place. My guess is over the long term it will play out a lot like Gibbs and Clichy. That said we don’t have any other options at RWB so Hector will get lots of minutes and time will tell how it works out. I hope this time you are correct, but our track record indicates that the odds are not in favor of the strongly positive outcome.

  42. HenryB,

    Is he good, yes but would he be thr cheaper option for Lemar, nope. Can’t see why we would want to bring him he reminds me a lot of what Nelson brings just older. Personally, if we are going to spend the money go after somebody else.

    I think he can develop into a good player but right now we need better. I would rather we chase say a Lucas Moura.

    Yes I do think he is using Arsenal but its not the firat time he has voiced his displeasure with Chelsea and Conte about match time.

  43. Henry

    At the time we sold Gabriel we were not light at CB. We still had Kos, Mustafi, Nacho, Holding, Mert, Chambers with Kolasnac and Elneny as potential emergency players that we could use if needed. Most teams do not rotate much at CB and I don’t think many teams carry that many CB’s. I think Arsene’s first choice was to sell Chambers but he could not find a buyer so he had to sell someone and Gabriel was the lowest player on the pecking order who had some value in the transfer market so he was sold. Gabriel was not someone who was in the long term plans as a replacement for Kos or Mert because he had never been that good. That makes sense to me.

  44. Arsene had a huge emotional investment in Wojo and gave him the oversized wage on a long term contract and 5 years between the sticks. However his faith was rewarded with 5 years of inconsistency and I suspect a dressing room headache. How would Wojo react behind the scenes to being cech’s backup for at least a couple of years? If you were making decisions, would you want to give another huge contract to a player like that?

  45. Bill,

    Those players you mention; Kos, Mustafi, Nacho, Holding, Mert, Chambers with Kolasnac and Elneny are not the quality that any other top club would accept.

    (1) Kos : chronic injuries that will never properly get better. Rumours that he may have gone back to France last year.

    (2) Mustafi : on his way out last summer. Deal collapsed because of salary scale.
    So too, Calum : on his way out — but injury stopped the deal.
    Mert : wanted to retire last summer, but reluctantly agreed to delay that until next year when he becomes a coach, but in any case he said he could not play regularly this season.

    Nacho, Kolasinac, Elneny are not CBs and never will be, if they were not forced into it because there are no suitable alternatives.

    I find it odd that you of all people on here, usually so pernickety about some relatively small matters, seem to believe that the above rag bag roster of defenders, who are either constantly injured, saved by luck from being transferred last summer, or are too old and want to retire, or are being continually asked to play out of position, are good enough for a top 4 team.

    Really?

  46. On the other hand, I think trying to move out Mustafi without getting a quality replacement would have been total wengerian insanity. I have no idea what Arsene would have been thinking with that one unless he had a potential replacement lined up. One possible explanation would be if Arsene decided he had to keep the wages at a certain level and selling Gabriel and Wojo made sense and part of the plan but near the end Arsene may have thought he had to move one more player on a big wage. However moving Mustafi who is clearly one of the first 11 seems crazy to me and and an act of desperation.

    However, once it became obvious that Ox was going to be putulent and force a sale that may have solved the problem and Arsene could then pull back from selling Mustafi. That is totally guess work but it makes more sense then some of the other ideas to explain what happened last summer.

  47. Henry

    Fair enough. I think Kos and Nacho are both good individual defensive players. Nacho is certainly very capable as the left sided player of a back 3 or the LB if we play 4 at the back. Mustafi is pretty good and Mert is certainly serviceable so we are not really that light at CB especially when you consider that none of those players is being used in Europa League, League cup or early round FA cup and the only games they play are the league games. I don’t think Gabriel improved the overall quality of our group of CB’s so it made sense to sell him.

  48. HenryB,

    Before he was injured I think Debuchy played a couple of games as the right-sided CB in a back 4. I think Wenger was also playing Chambers as RB at the time. Debuchy didn’t do a bad job at the time and I thought it was useful that we had some experienced cover if needed.
    When he came back from injury it appeared that Debuchy thought he should play like Bellerin and was often caught up the field, as he didn’t have the pace to get back. He may have done better to have held his position more and do the defensive stuff. Perhaps Wenger wanted him further forward.

    Spuds up 1-0 thanks to clear offside from Trippier that the linesman completely ignored.

  49. Hi Wavey,

    It is like the conversation we had — choosing a team, including CBs from what we have is one thing, and to that extent both you and Bill have a point.

    My own view is simply that you will not find any other supposedly ‘top team’ who have such a cavalier attitude towards trying to sell accredited CBs (even if the deals broke down) and the lack of buying suitable replacements. It seems to be all seat of the pants stuff.

    Whatever the reason — we do not have CBs who would be wanted at other top teams, in my opinion, which is not to rubbish our players for the sake of it – because they are OK-ish – they are just not top drawer.

    Luckily – you do not have to agree! 😀

  50. The craziest thing is that lets actually take a look at the summer and end of the window (in reality the time between the first match and second, Gabriel was sold the day before and against Stoke we started Sead/Mustafi/Nacho as our CB’s) :

    Kos was already injured
    Chambers was already injured
    Holding was already dropped to the U23’s because it was after the first match of the season when his confidence was shattered)
    Mert had already said he wanted to retire

    What was Arsene’s response: try to sell Gabriel and Mustafi, please tell me what other futbol club or manager would do that?

    Lets not also forget that the last 2 times Debuchy has come back he has been injured within the first 2 to 3 matches I think. The problem with playing Sead as a CB is who is going to play LWB, Iwobi?

    At the end of the day it all comes down to Arsene wanting and loving to put square pegs in round holes and thinking he is too smart when in reality he is making things worst.

  51. Man City, ManU and Spurs are thru to the final 16 and both Chelsea and Liverpool are in the drivers seat. England will probably have 5 teams in the final 16 and an English is leading 4 of the groups and Chelsea still has a chance to win their group and make it 5 English teams topping their groups. Quite a performance from the PL so far. The top of the table in our league is deeper and stronger then its been at anytime in this decade and possibly this century. Its going to take a lot for us to finish in the top 4.

  52. C

    I agree that I did not like the idea of both Kolasinac and Nacho playing in the back 3 and using Mert would at CB and moving Kolasinac to LWB would have been a better move. Gabriel would not have helped us early in the season because Mert was healthy above Gabriel on the pecking order and Kos was almost ready to come back. I think Arsene felt he needed to sell someone and selling Gabriel made the most sense.

    I do agree with you that the apparent attempt to sell Mustafi was a bit crazy and I have no real idea what Arsene was thinking. We can only guess which is what I did in the comment at 7:24.

  53. If you assume 3 defensive players at the back then we had Kos, Mustafi, Mert, Chambers, Holding, Nacho, Debuchy and Gabriel. I suspect that most teams would not keep more then 6 players for those 3 positions in their 25 man squad. That means at least one of possibly 2 of those 8 players had to be either sold or sent on season long loan. I think Arsene’s first choice was to sell Debuchy but he could not. I think he also tried to sell Chambers and that did not work out so he had to sell Gabriel. No?

  54. HenryB,

    I don’t mind the quality of the cover players, but the first choice CBs are an issue. Mustafi is adequate, Kos is one tweak away from an extended period on the sidelines and always had a major fuck up in him and Per is too slow for the high line we want to play. I think both Debuchy and Nacho are capable cover, but as C said, Debuchy does pick up injuries. Chambers and Holding are meant to be tge upcomings, but we know Holding is struggling and we haven’t seen enough of Chambers to be able to gauge him at CB. Elneny is a midfielder, so what the hell are messibg about with him as a CB for?

    The priority should be to upgrade the first choice CB pairing, but Wenger doesn’t appear to place any great importance on defence and summer spending is likely to be focused on replacing our big departures. The situation at GK is even worse, Cech has aged quickly, Ospina is not good enough and the youngsters are too inexperienced. Wojo was better than all of the back up options, but I’m not sure he would have been willing to wait for Cech to step down.

  55. I haven’t read all the comments yet but why the downer on Debuchy?
    He was France first choice over Sagna for many years. Say no more?
    In short he has proven a hell of a lot more than Calum Chambers who I hope works out but previously said I would have sold instead of Gabriel for reported $20m
    He should still be a very solid player

  56. Hi Wavey @ 6:51

    I am not surprised — we are in agreement.

    You are correct, it is not the numbers of so-called CBs that is important – it is the quality of the ‘proper’ CBs that will decide our fate — now and in the future.

    I have always been mystified by all this phaffing about with full backs and midfielders filling in as ‘temporary’ CBs, and recognised CBs like Holding, and Chambers when he has been available, are just as likely to be riding the bench or playing at RB. No wonder the latter two lose confidence and make mistakes when they do get a game at CB.

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