If the newspapers are to be believed completely, Arsenal are constantly in search of 3 of the 4 positions club legend Henry referred to as the ‘spine’. These were that of a Goalkeeper, a centre back, a holding midfield player and a title winning striker, someone in the bracket of Luis Suarez and Diego Costa. Petr Cech, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jackson Martinez and Arturo Vidal are all players who could potentially cover 3 of these 4 positions, have been constantly linked to Arsenal. One position that has thus far has not featured so constantly in Arsenal’s transfer news is that of a Centre back.
Do we need another Centre Back? Number wise, Arsenal are arguably more beefed up in every other position. 3 natural centre backs for 2 positions implies Arsenal are definitely short in this position. Every big club in Europe, with the exception of Atletico Madrid, has 4 experienced and/or top quality centre backs, while we have only 3. While Nacho Monreal has been forced to fill that role due to an injury to Laurent Koscielny at some point last season, he has played well and while Calum Chambers, the young Englishman tipped to play in that position permanently in the years to come, the numbers definitely suggest that Arsenal could bring in another Centre Back.
Arsenal’s dilemma with regard to brining another centre half, has to do with one of Wenger’s recent projects, converting or using senior and experienced full backs as make do centre backs. We have seen Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy do that this year, while Bacary Sagna filled the centre back role in the 2013-14 season. Perhaps Wenger believes that allowing players to fill in positions that they are not naturally accustomed to filling contributes positively to the development of such players.
Additionally Wenger is also known for not rotating his centre backs too often. We saw this for over a season and a half, when former Arsenal Skipper Thomas Vermaelen was almost permanently replaced by the effective and reliable partnership formed between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Due to this, an addition in that position would effectively leave Arsenal with 5 centre backs (including Calum Chambers) and in Wenger’s view, perhaps 7 ( including Monreal and Debuchy), not to forget the young Gunner Isaac Hayden, who has already featured for Arsenal in the capital one cup. Based on all of this, getting in another centre back will see at least one player hit the bench for a large part of the season next time around.
At the same time, while one imagines how a striker or a midfielder could fit into this Arsenal squad, two positions Arsenal seem relatively more sufficiently equipped, one would be concerned about the centre back position. Arsenal’s injury woes, (which will hopefully not come back to haunt the club)have reduced due to the gradual yet impactful role played by Shad Forsyth, Arsenal’s fitness coach brought in at the beginning of last season. Thanks to him, Arsenal had a fully fit squad at the end of the season.
However, if we are faced with a situation where all centre backs are injured with full backs having to fill in, in big games (For example Chelsea or Manchester city away), the chances of the Gunners conceding a goal are much higher than if a natural centre half is fit to play in such a game. Therefore, from this perspective, to be on the safe side and have quality centre backs throughout the season, bringing in a centre back can only be a good thing for the team
To sum up, my verdict on the subject is basically this: We should definitely bring in a new centre back, for they are shorter in no other position. Additionally, a new centre back could only help in the development of and in providing competition to young and promising centre backs Calum Chambers and Isaac Hayden, of which the former has already made quite a few appearances at just 20 years of age. Whether Arsene Wenger brings in a young centre back to fill this position or an experienced one, or none at all, is yet to be seen.
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