Arsene Wenger has shuffled the defensive pack for over a season for one reason or another on the search for a solid base.
It hasn’t worked for a number of reasons, mostly injury but also due to lack of understanding and incompatibility. Holding, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Mustafi and the bum footed Brazilian Gabriel have all taken up the posts but without becoming a formidable force.
Mertesacker who is in his last season is physically vulnerable but still has great positional awareness and presence. Holding has performed brilliantly, however, is still very much one for the future.
Koscielny, Wenger’s omnipresent centre-back is not, in my opinion, as solid as he was first thought to be and is certainly not a natural organiser or leader. Whilst Mustafi, despite the bright start to his Arsenal career, has been at odds with Koscielny and the pairing simply doesn’t seem to work.
So what are we to do? Well, why not put the two Germans together for big games because they have an understanding and winning mentality on the big stage.
Mertesacker is obviously getting close to his end but his ability to organise others is key and as he showed in the FA Cup win against Chelsea, he can still give it a 100% but just not as often.
Koscielny fans and admirers might be a little miffed at the suggestion and all this depends on preserving the towering German over a long and congested season but the pairing will pay dividends at the expense of the Frenchman, who is likely to be unhappy to sit on the bench.
Until Arsenal stop handing out soft goals and find a solution, Wenger’s team are doomed to failure. In fact, if you look at the current lineup, only Mustafi, Bellerin and Holding are there for the long haul, with Monreal, Koscielny and Mertesacker at the age where any deficiencies have become glaringly obvious.
Mertesacker takes up his new post on the coaching staff next season and the Arsenal boss may do well to cash in on the other Two whilst they are still of value. They do have Krystian Bielik in reserve, although injured at present, it’s felt that he and Holding might be a natural fit in the future.
Then there’s Sead Kolasinac who is a player of depth and his adaptability is clear for all to see. He has been superb cutting in from wide and offers the attack genuine support.
The big question is, can they keep Bellerin? I doubt that he will stay much longer if success is not forthcoming. The young Spaniard would be an asset to any team, especially going forward and Wenger would have to spend big to obtain that type of quality.
If the boss is blind to the Achilles heel that Arsenal have and loyalty prevents him from making the necessary changes, he should have resisted the temptation of signing a contract extension.
I’m not saying that Koscielny is a terrible defender but he may have to be sacrificed for the success of the team and resign himself to the fact that even he is a squad player, not an automatic first choice.