Daily Archives: January 4, 2020
The new year has began with a buzz following the Mikel Arteta managerial announcement and the performances on the pitch have clearly improved from the shitefest that was Emeryball.
However, there is one player that will not take any further part of the Arteta Renaissance this season due to yet another unfortunate injury. Arsenal has confirmed that Calum Chambers will be out for six to nine months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee. It’s not an injury that’s uncommon to the club, bearing in mind that Rob Holding (against Manchester United in December 2018) and Hector Bellerin (against Chelsea in January 2019) suffered similar injuries last season.
The timing of this injury is really bad for Chambers because he had turned out to be a silver lining in what has been a shambolic defense for the most part of the season. Prior to the valuable clean sheet, and of course, victory that was achieved against Manchester United on New Year’s Day, Arsenal had only managed three clean sheets in the Premier League – and Chambers started in all three. It’s not like he has been our Virgil van Dijk or something, but he tends to show more composure than the older folks in the defensive rearguard, hardly putting a foot wrong making those vital blocks, clearances and interceptions.
Despite the fact that the perceived duration for corrective surgery, rehabilitation and recovery for these injuries typically span into nine months, the reality has always shown that these players take a whole lot longer before they return to full fitness.
I can only wish Chambers a speedy recovery and we will be expecting to see him at the tail end of what we hope to be an amazing year with Arteta at the helm.
With Chambers injury in the spotlight, it was only normal for the journos to bug the gaffer on his plans, and as expected, Arteta indulged them with this,
“We have some bad injuries, like Calum a few days ago. That’s obviously going to change our plans at the back, but the reality at the moment is that we’re not going to be able to do much.”
“I’m more concerned at the moment about getting people back from injuries than I am the signings. I want to improve the players I have here, get everybody on board and understanding what we’re trying to do. If something extra comes up and we think it’s the right opportunity to improve what we have, let’s do it.”
These comments from the gaffer leaves us with two clear alternatives;
- Make the best out of the defenders we have at our disposal or
- Delving into the transfer market to find some much needed defensive cover
Let’s throw some more light on these alternatives shall we?
Alternative One: Improve the Current Defensive Lot in the Squad
30 goals conceded in 21 Premier League games, seven goals conceded in six Europa League games and five goals conceded in two Carabao Cup games. Only seven clean sheets kept from 29 games in all competitions.
The stats above clearly show that Arsenal’s defending has left a lot to be desired and whether it was a back four or back three, the Gunners have struggled really badly at the back. Sometimes, it down to individual errors. Other times, it down to poor collective defending but it has been shambolic watching our lads play so poorly at the back this season.
Yes, our club captain, Laurent Koscielny, bailed out on us so close to the end of the transfer window but the quick fire replacement we got from Chelsea didn’t light any fireworks and has seen his form dwindle. His experienced Spartan partner we acquired from Borussia Dortmund hasn’t covered himself in glory with a series of comedic displays that has seen fans call for his head on a spike.
Then there’s dear ol’ World Cup winner that was so bad, his manager opened the door and told him to leave but sadly, no one out there wants him to become their own liability. Finally, the promising youngster that we have been putting our hopes from just returned from a lengthy layoff and has suffered several niggling injuries that has seen him miss first team football as far back as November.
There you have it – the Arsenal defensive circus that concedes goals as easily as Unai Emery uses hair gel.
However, these same defenders have been subjected to the “Arteta effect” – three games played, three goals conceded, but it has taken its toll on their performances. The lads are more physical, robust in their challenges and committed in their tackling like they were injected with some kind of biological serum no different from the type that changed Steve Rodgers to Captain America.
Some may say it’s early days but David Luiz in particular has drastically improved in his form and that are certainly rubbed off on his partner-in-crime, Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
I firmly believe that there’s little or no hope for Skhodran Mustafi in the wake of yet another horrific showing in the game against Chelsea, but Arteta might yet prove me wrong. As for Rob Holding, we will continue to monitor his fitness and hope that his muscles will be able to cope with the physicality and intensity of the Arteta pressing.
Alternative Two: Delve into the Transfer Market
It’s times like this that I wish signing players in reality was like Football Manager, where you make a few clicks here and there, and Bob’s your uncle. Sadly, it’s not – there are a lot of engagements, discussions, agreement and transactions to be done for the signing of a player can be completed.
It’s even worse in the January transfer window, because the “selling club” preys on the desperation of the buying club to get deals with exorbitant prices.
Everyone watches the news, so its not a hidden secret that Arsenal needs a center back faster than Gilberto Silva’s goal against PSV Eindhoven in 2002. Enter Dayot Upamecano, a sought after young French central defender that has a lot of potential to be the next best thing since fried plantain, and as you’d expect, he’s going to cost a whole lot of money in today’s transfer market.
According to the Metro, RB Leipzig has informed Arsenal that they will not lower their asking price of £70m. This is a lad that just started competitive playing football four years ago – a two year stint with RB Salzburg before he moved to their sister club, RB Leipzig in January 2017 for just €10m. Now RB Leipzig wants him to be £5m cheaper than Van Dijk.
In all honesty, I haven’t watched this lad well enough to make an informed analysis on his performance, and I have no plans of going to watch his clips on YouTube (even Yaya Sanogo had insane clips), but I’m in the opinion that acquiring him for that insane amount of money isn’t a good piece of business.
We have a William Saliba who’s at his age bracket coming in next season, and in Rob Holding we have a very bright young prospect so why should we burn that kind of cash? I’d rather go with a more conservative option which brings me to the next player we are linked with…
According to Sky Sports, Arsenal are interested in acquiring the services of Jerome Boateng from Bayern Munich. Since leaving Manchester City a decade ago, Boateng has made 300 appearances for the German outfit, winning seven Bundesliga titles in a row, four German Cups, one Champions League, one Super Cup and one Club World Cup.
He even managed to squeeze in one World Cup title while playing for
Ghana Germany. Despite the fact that superstar signing from Atletico Madrid, Lucas Fernandez, has sidelined with injury, Bayern has confirmed that the 31-year-old Boateng can leave for €10m.
For me, getting an experienced defender like Boateng for that amount is a very shrewd type of business. I’d pick Boateng over Sokratis at the moment to partner David Luiz while we wait for Holding to gain full fitness to stake a claim for a first team berth.
Let’s get your thoughts in the comments.
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