Written by Benjamin Dungate.
Having been an Arsenal fan through the George Graham era and having played the ‘Makelele’ role as well as right back during my Sunday League days, I feel I am ideally suited to pass comment on Arsenal’s defensive options for the upcoming season – well, better than the rest of the idiot pundits who seem to criminally underrate Koscielny.
We are lucky enough to have arguably the finest central defender in the Premier League in Laurent Koscielny. He opitimises everything you want in a modern day defender. He is fast, he reads the game well, he is aggressive in the tackle, good in the air and he chips in with some goals too. He has also taken on a leadership role within the team and will be a good shout as captain, no matter his lack of vocal strength!
Arsenal also have good options in the full back positions. Hector Bellerin is only going to improve and Monreal is a 7 out of 10 every game. But who should partner Koscielny?
I love Per Mertesacker as much as any Gooner and thought he would be perfect even before he was actually purchased. But I think the BFG’s days as a first choice are numbered. Positionally he is still a fine defender but seems to have lost whatever it is that elevates a player above being just good. At the very same time, Laurent Koscielny seems to acquired it.
The decision to just go out an buy a new defender though is not one to be rushed in to. For what we need is not necessarilly to buy the best defender we can, but to buy the best defender we can who compliments what we already have.
The complications arise when you look at Koscielny’s skill set. For not only is he our best defensive barrier he can also supply a threat when he comes out of defence to join an attack.
Of course if we cast our mind back to when Thomas Vermaelen was still at the club, there were issues when the two of them played together. Time has past since then though and Kos is a much finer defender and player in general than he was then.
So what sort of partner should Arsene search for to support Koscielny? One who will stay back and offer him the freedom to occasionally step into midfield or one who is perhaps better on the ball than Kos and be the one who ventures forward.
It is a difficult decison but ultimately we have no way of knowing what the right decision is until one is made. Playing alongside Mertesacker has improved Koscielny’s game but now a new, better partner is needed and Gabriel is not the man to fill that role for me.
There are some exciting defenders out there such as Konstantinos Manolas and Skrodran Mustafi. Both with huge potential and both very different in their styles. Or maybe the answer is already within our ranks in young Callum Chambers…
Whichever direction the manager chooses to go in, it is something that needs addressing before the season kicks off.
Written by Benjamin Dungate.