The centre of the defence is rightly a cause for consternation at the moment. We’ve seen worse; going into the season with one fit centre-back was more reckless than injury and suspension wreaking havoc. Back three, four, five; not quite as lyrically effective as “ABC, it’s easy as 1-2-3” and there are fears our defence might be similarly challenged at St Mary’s tomorrow.
The one centre-back who is fit, is also fit relatively speaking. By now, you’ve seen the documentary on the official site about Laurent Koscienly’s journey back to fitness. Interesting stuff from the medical staff. I allowed myself a wry smile when the doctor declared Koscielny’s determination to regain his fitness was a sign of how much he wanted to play for the club.
I’m so glad the other Laurent Koscielny who freely admitted he was leaving last summer found another club. It’s so confusing when you have two players with the same name in the same position.
Inevitably, the injury situation turns attention to the January transfer window. The surprise so far is that we aren’t linked with Koulibaly. At £100m, it’s a snip. The fantasy signings we’ll make this winter; woah! Because Stan is going to dip into his pockets for the likes of de Ligt. There’s more chance of finding groove in his heart.
The question for the club is whether they buy or loan this winter? The answer is governed initially by whether it’s a good deal, obviously. With the turnover of centre-backs I hope for next summer, buying in the winter may be less turbulent.
For what little it’s worth, out will go Koscielny, Mustafi and Chambers with three incoming, joined by the promotion of one other. While Chambers can also play midfield, we’re well-stocked there and liable to strengthen as well.
Boys of Summer
With Dino Mavropanos set to return from injury soon, we need to see if he will deliver on the potential we saw last season? The remaining five months of the season will surely answer that.
The potential is something Arsenal has always seen in young players but delivery is not always evident. Gus Caesar was potentially very good; Chris Whyte was more appreciated at Leeds being two examples. Whyte, it must be said, was half-decent for us given his age but first, ill-fated Tommy Caton and then Tony Adams undermined his time at the club.
By the time George Graham arrived, Whyte was already out the door. Had the Scot been a fundamental part of his development, would Whyte have played a bigger part at Arsenal? One of football’s ‘what-if’s’.
It’s all very well having promise but we need experience to help those youngsters. In the same way a season with Stephan Lichtsteiner is providing guidance for Hector Bellerin, the centre of defence needs similar. Would Gary Cahill, for example, help counteract Mustafi’s bad habits for six months?
Or does Emery just quietly say to the young defenders, “Mustafi is a great example, watch what he does and then do the opposite…”
Next summer is shaping to be a busy time. Cech’s contract is up, Ospina, Welbeck and Ramsey all leave on free transfers. Three centre-backs out; Sven isn’t going to know which way is up at this rate.