Arsenal yesterday won their last preseason game against Pep’s Manchester City 3 2 but at some cost with the injury suffered by Gabriel late in the game. I actually suspected a leg break on watching the whole thing unfold and Gabriel’s immediate reaction but Arsene say’s it’s ligament damage, with a scan scheduled for later today we will find out the real extent of the damage done.
With this injury to Gabriel and Koscielny just back from his extended break the team has no experienced centre back going into the first few games of the season, a situation the team should not be in considering Mertesacker has been injured for a few weeks now and Arsene having admitted the team is short at the back has refused to do anything about it but talk. This situation is reminiscent of Chambers first season at Arsenal in the 2014/15 season when Koscielny resumed the season managing an achilles problem. Arsene didn’t sign a centre back in the summer transfer window therefore forcing the young Chambers to play more games than he was supposed to at centre back as it had become a necessity when Koscielny’s achilles injury flared up again. Chambers featured regularly in the first half of the season and his effectiveness faded as the season wore on. I remember the torrid time he endured in the loss against stoke in the centre of defence where he was also sent off. As at December 2014 Chambers had played 24 matches for Arsenal in all competitions and for a 19 year old who hadn’t played at that level consistently that’s asking a lot. Wenger admitted overplaying him after Arsenal’s 2 2 draw away to Liverpool in December 2014 electing to play Debuchy at the centre of defence with Mertesacker instead of Chambers.
In January 2015 of the same season Arsene forked out for a central defender buying Gabriel Paulista from Villareal in the winter transfer window. What exactly was different from the summer transfer window that he didn’t make the transfer then? He gambled on Koscielny overcoming his achilles in time and Chambers being able to play at centre back for short stints. An extra body in the form of an experienced defender in the summer transfer window would have prevented Chambers being overplayed resulting in him being mismanaged. A similar scenario is being played out with Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Krystian Bielik the only fit central defenders for the first team after injuries to Gabriel and Per.
Central defence is very different from playing as a full back it controls and manages the entire defensive line in front of the keeper requiring for great mental fortitude and manoeuvring than just physical ability, the reason why it’s easier to get burned there than anywhere else in the backline. I remember a young Senderos giving a recently arrived Drogba in the premier league a good game in the centre of the Arsenal defence (believe me I am not making it up hahah), fast forward a few games the same Senderos had become Drogba’s donkey that he could ride at will.
Now Arsene and Ivan are in a position where whichever defender they were hoping to get on a bargain has just gone up a few million pounds with the selling party knowing there is a desperation for an experienced defender, a need that should have been addressed earlier. I am a big Arsene fan but in the past few weeks it’s coming across that the club have failed to effectively plan for the most competitive season in view. I hope I am wrong and they are privy to things that we all don’t know which will in the end manifest into a great season.