Defence. Are we good enough?

A quick post inspired by a kelsey comment questioning whether our defence is strong enough to survive the season.

Starting at right back. Is Debuchy an adequate replacement for Sagna? Time will tell but given that every man and his dog were asking Mr Wenger to sign Debuchy from the middle of last season we can hardly complain that he has done so! More concerning is the back-up. Sending the Corporal out on loan indicates AW’s lack of trust in the likeable gooner which means either that he has high hopes for Bellerin or that Chambers is to be Debuchy’s understudy(or both). Long term I see Bellerin as our RB.


Bellerin is 19 y.o, as is Chambers. Jenks was 21 last season, so age is not the issue for a back-up. In my opinion we have no cause for concern at RB especially given Flamini’s ability to play there.

Flamini is also a fine left back ,which given kelsey’s concerns about Gibbs being injury prone is just as well. I am not sure I agree that Gibbs cannot last a season – he is older and stronger than he has ever been and I think is currently the best LB in the league. Kelsey also has concerns about Monreal, apparently he is not good enough. Here we disagree – I think Monreal is an excellent player who has now had a season to adjust to the PL and will show why he is a Spanish international. As back up to Gibbs he is all I would wish for. Monreal has intelligence enough to be trusted by Mr Wenger to play at CB alongside a novice – if that isn’t proof of AW’s confidence in him then what is? IMO we are well covered at left back.

Goalkeeper. No worries here either. Both keepers are superb and we have the best two keepers in the PL (as Caballero showed on Sunday 😀 )

Centre Backs (or center backs as Didit would have it).  No questioning the excellence of the first choice CB pairing, perhaps our best since 2004. It is the back up which causes concerns. Chambers looks a fine prospect and as many point out Tony Adams was starring for AFC at a similar age. Given the experience and expertise of both BFG and Kos I would be happy to see Chambers learning alongside either one – he has the physique, pace and technique to take such a role and he needs pitch time to develop. But can we take the risk?  I think not – an experienced back-up CB is essential, Agger, would be good but there are many suitable candidates out there (Williams?).


And what of the defensive midfielder, the screen in front of the back four? We have Arteta and Flamini. Given the team set up I think we are unlikely to see a DM arrive this season. Mr Wenger likes busy, multi-tasking, ball-playing midfielders and much as I would like to see a younger version of Arteta join the squad I cannot see it.

Given that we conceded only 41 goals (of which half were to just in just 4 games!) I would say we have a sound defence. TV only started 7 games (+7 as sub) so he will hardly be missed (Chambers would easily play 7 games at CB).

We have a balance of quality youth and experience in defence and I predict we will concede a few less than last season as we close in on the title.

Defensively we are fine but I would like Mr Wenger to sign an experienced CB on a two year contract just for some insurance

written by Big Raddy


58 Responses to Defence. Are we good enough?

  1. Big Raddy says:

    kelsey. Thank you for the inspiration 🙂

  2. rhyle says:

    Good post, Kelsey. Think our first choice back 4 is amongst the best in the league. We didn’t concede the goals we did in those 4 games because our defence suddenly became rubbish or had a poor game – in every case it was being overrun in the midfield (Man City through the centre, Chelsea and Liverpool down the wings) and not adjusting our game plan to compensate…but don’t think that’s a mistake we’ll make twice.

    Back-up wise, too, we’re in pretty good shape – certainly in the full-back dept. I, too, am a fan of Monreal. Yes, his form hasn’t been the best but the man has hardly had a run of games – just as his chance came last year he picked up a knock. Unfortunate. I’m also a big fan of Bellerin, having seen him develop and heard good things from my “peeps”! Chambers as 3rd choice CB is not a bad thing, not ideal but doesn’t scare me in any way. One more name here, preferably someone with title winning credentials and experience (wrong side of 30 fine by me) to help with Chambers development would be great.

    I said it yesterday and I’ll say it today…This side is missing one piece for us to win the league. WIN, not compete. And that is a DM who frightens people.

    I always go back to Roy Keane saying that we had Man Utd beat in the tunnel in the late ’90s. Every player was physically imposing, 6 foot+ monsters. Intimidating. We’ve lacked that for a long time.

  3. mickydidit89 says:

    About bloody time you stepped up, Raddy, but thank you anyway 🙂

    Right. Rubbish. Here’s why.

    This is the doomers view. It’s negative thinking. The defence is fine and does not need strengthening, and to underline my new thinking, I’ve done a monumental U-turn on my five year campaign for a DM. Don’t need one of them.

    Nope, it’s all about attack.

    Look at the table below. Goals For, Against, Final Points Tally.

    Remove our silly goals conceded against Chelsea and Liverpool, and it’s fairly bloody obvious we’re fine.

    We’ve added more goals in Sanchez, so if there is one more player we need, it’s not a doomist defensive anything, it’s a Left Winger with 20+ goals in him.

    Score more than them is the way to go.

    1 Manchester City 102 37 86
    2 Liverpool 101 50 84
    3 Chelsea 71 27 82
    4 Arsenal 68 41 79

  4. mickydidit89 says:


    Rubbish 🙂

    Here’s why. Those heavy defeats had nothing to do with Arteta or Flamini, but the whole team was asleep and the Full Backs were so far up the f’ing pitch, they were in Club level bloody bar.

  5. mickydidit89 says:

    DM’s are for Doomers

  6. Manthan says:

    Hi BR, A good read thanks for the post mate.. I do believe we need a DM who can break attack of team like Chelshit, Shitty and Pool.. I am fine with Chambers as CB but a DM should be our top priority Arteta is good but against big team we suffers and there in a good DM will make us title contenders..

  7. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning all, a fine post BR. In answer to the question an emphatic yes! At least as far as the first choice line-up is concerned. Debuchy, Merts, Koscielny and Gibbs look a fine combinatiion to me

    The problem arises when any one of the four is missing through injury or suspension. At right back Bellerin/ Chambers are very inexperienced. At centre back, Chambers ditto. Left back is the exception as Monreal is a more than adequate back-up to Gibbs.

    With Merts in full training he could be available for the Besitkas game, Playing in the Palace game would be a risk. It’s also reported that Koscielny is carrying a hamstring injury so we could be in for a trying time very soon.

    My conclusion is that we must sign at least a centre back but ideally also a utilty player who can fill in across the back four and perhaps just in front of the back line too.

  8. RC78 says:

    GK – We are good with PIG and Ospina.

    RB – Debuchy is an adequate replacement (not the best) for Sagna but he is no Ivanovic or even Johnson…It seems that AW is ready to trust Chambers as a back-up and as mentioned, Flamini and even Monreal can play there so we are OK.

    LB – Gibbs is good but again he is no Baines, Shaw or even Azpi or Moreno…Monreal is on and off, he can be great on some games and really awful in others so for me he is a bit of a liability. Again, we are OK but neither good nor great.

    CB – BFG and Kos partnership was great against small teams but smashed against the big boys so that begs the question, are they world-class defenders? My answer is that they are both really good but not world-class and they do lack a bit of leadership and strength as well. They are no Kompany, Skrtl or Terry/Cahill but they are very good. Now, Chambers made a good impression but with TV’s departure, we would need someone to come in. I would love to see Agger join us as he knows the EPL, has leadership competencies and is strong on the man. However, it seems that AW will try to land Manolas who has a good WC but who, IMHO, will not cut in the EPL because of his lack of pace and his lack of positional awareness…We are good here but not great.

    DM – We have Arteta, Flamini but also Diaby and Coquelin that can play in that position. I am hoping that both Diaby and Coquelin will leave our team by end of August. As a result, I would love to see a DM join us, ideally Javi Martinez or Lars Bender but chances seem slimmer and slimmer…Again, both Arteta and Flamini were outpaced and outclassed against the big boys while they fared really well agains the teams outside the top 6. As a result, we can say that they are good players but not world-class so once again, we are good here but not great.

    All and all, the team defended well as a block against the “smaller teams” last year but was very much exposed againt the big teams, mainly because we lacked the strength at DM position and the pace at CB. These two weaknesses should be addressed. The best way to do it: purchase Javi Martinez as he can play both DM and CB. If not possible, hope to see Agger join us and maybe a player that is used to the EPL jouts like Tiote or even Lucas Leiva – although not my favored options…

    Anyways – thinkgs are looking bright upfront but a bit more bleak in the back but I am sure that AW will somehow try to brighten things up defensively as well. Come on Gunners!

  9. kelsey says:

    What you been smoking,didit 🙂


    I was only the inspiration, Raddy gets the kudos,but I won’t change my mind about Monreal.He may be adequate but prove me wrong and I will be delighted.

  10. rhyle says:

    Saw your face at the bottom of the post, Kelsey and assumed you’d written it!

    Micky – wouldn’t blame either Arteta or Flamini (and didn’t!!), it was Wenger who got things wrong. We just didn’t compete in the middle of the park and our lack of defensive enthusiasm on the flanks cost us! Our full backs (particularly LB) have been targeted by the opposition (look at a good 50% of the goals we’ve shipped over the last 2 seasons – mainly come from width where the FBs haven’t closed down effectively, though think that comes from AW).

    Think a proper DM can go a long way to addressing this – not a one-stop solution, I admit, and we wouldn’t have to go this route against teams outside of the top 7/8 where can go for your “BANZAI” approach to football!

    Just remember how that worked out for our pals down the road when “Ossie’s Dream” crashed and burned…

  11. mickydidit89 says:

    Crystals, Crystals, Crystals,

    Calm down Dear 🙂

    If we’d beaten City away, and say Villa at home, we’d have been Champions.

    In the Charity Shield we weren’t over run by big oiks in midfield like Yaya Toure or Frank Ferdinandinho or whatever his name is, and neither were our B Team defence beaten by their attack.

    Teams don’t like being on the back foot, and that is why we’re adopting a “much more goals” atty this season 🙂

  12. mickydidit89 says:

    My “banzai” approach

    ha ha ROLF 🙂

  13. mickydidit89 says:

    Ok, thought about that, and nope, still prefer my banzai approach to Raddy’s zen group huggy gong bath claptrap 🙂

  14. Rasp says:

    Thanks Raddy, you’ve touched on the current issue that divides support – does the defence require a top DM to help them out in certain games?

    My answer is yes, Didit’s is no, I suspect AW’s is also no.

    Would we have conceded all those goals against City, the chavs and pool if we’d had a ‘Carvalho’ sitting in front of the back four? – I think not.

    Would we have scored so many goals if a team place was occupied by a DM who didn’t contribute to our attacking play? – I’m not so sure.

    Would a DM mean our FB’s could bomb forward whatever? …. No

    The question perhaps should be – would a ‘Carvalho’ who was integrated into the team bring more than Arteta to the side?

  15. mickydidit89 says:


    You could have stuck King Kong at DM (Doom Midfield) and if his orders had been to go out and have a kip in the sunshine for the first twenty minutes, I rather suspect the outcome would have been similar.

  16. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. My answer is also No, at least for this season.

    However, next year Arteta and Flamini will leave and we have need for a DM (or Zelalem is as good as everyone hopes).

  17. mickydidit89 says:

    Has Coquelin gone back out on loan, or is he a squaddie for this season?

  18. Rasp says:

    Hi Micky,

    Surely you’re not suggesting that AW sent the players out with the instruction to ‘have a kip in the sunshine ‘ 😛

    I cannot understand why the team sometimes suffer from a collective malaise and at other times a collective ‘gungho’ness’, but I do know that when things aren’t going well, a strong presence in the midfield can make a difference.

    We have oodles of creativity and attacking flair, I think we can afford a HM/DM as he will give more freedom to those players.

  19. mickydidit89 says:


    I can’t quote Arsene exactly on that one, but from what I saw on occasion last season, yes, I think he probably did say something similar 🙂

  20. Big Raddy says:

    Coq is in the CL squad so I assume he is still with us and not “departed”

  21. mickydidit89 says:

    Thanks Raddy.

    Then he must be the Kim Maellstrom replacement.

  22. kelsey says:

    I see Raddy has been reading arseblog 🙂

    You forgot away to Everton as well.

    I don’t actually think it’s a question if we bring someone in or not, it’s to stop conceding from set pieces and not sure about zonal marking,but above all is the whole the team concentrating and firing out of the blocks when the game starts.
    All those heavy defeats had a similar pattern and the games were lost within half an hour.

  23. chas says:

    Cheers, BR.

    I can’t see how a big DM would have stopped the heavy defeats of last season.
    Liverpool did us at set-pieces and down the flanks = DM bypassed.
    Chelsea caught us on the break = one extra man in midfield is easily bypassed.

    Both the City and Everton games were only 1-0 after 30 minutes.

    Defending as a team is the key for me. Full backs should not be allowed to cross the halfway line, at least until the effects of the pre-match spliff have worn off a little bit. Also, if we do concede a couple, consolidate and get a foothold in the game. Banzai is great if the score is 0-0, not so clever at 2-0 down.

  24. rhyle says:

    Chas…a DM can “fill in the gaps”, he doesn’t have to sit in the centre circle, but can drop in behind a marauding wing back to cover the areas he’s left exposed.

    A DM against City and Everton…regardless if it were only 1-0 after 30…would’ve certainly helped against City, where we were just overrun in MF.

    Having one and not needing him is a lot better than needing one and not having him!

  25. chas says:

  26. chas says:

    You know as well as I do that we have two marauding full backs. 🙂

  27. RA says:

    Oh come on guys, you know that Didit is right.

    Forget the Rasper with his HM/DM (is that a new position, and is it pronounced Hum/Dum?), forget Randy with his flower power, huggy buggy sentiments — no, the real deal is as Mighty Micky Muffin has said.

    Sod all this defensive guff, in fact sod all the itsy bitsy, tricksy wicks, midfield gnomes and convert them all into strapping, no-nonsense Center Forwards.

    Truth to tell, I am sure that Trickus Mickus is a footballing Genie, and I believe he has got it, and while I hope he keeps it to himself, I believe we should say to all those pacific, defensive minded pansies, ‘out, out foul spot’ to each of the CBs and FBs and yes, even to the GK, and convert them all into strapping, bra-wearing, no-nonsense CFs.

    Attack, Attack, Attack!

    Follow the Micky!!!


    Thanks Raddy

    I think we all accept we now have the finest pool of players in the premier league, but the debate still rumbles on about centre back cover and this coveted “beast” of a midfielder

    I think we need another centre back, we look a bit short there.

    I am with Micky and Arsene on the defensive midfielder, we don’t need one.

    Gone are the days when you could impress a women by striking a chav with your fag holder or thrashing a lout with ones cane.

    Arsene understands this. When you meet a beautiful women you desire to make love to you treat her like a lady. Mention her eyes are like opals and the smooth contours of her neck like cream. Tell her that her aroma drives you wild with desire then proceed to some French phrases. If you cant speak French then just mutter Amore Sacha Distel really quickly. That tends to work

    What you dont do is swing from a scaffold, yell out oi oi saveloy, and show her your bum crack

    I think Rasps response was spot on. Ultimately its a question of whether we would get more positive results with an Arteta or a scaffolder?

    I plump for an Arteta

  29. Rasp says:

    OK, since I’m wrong, how about a HMWPLADMBIRAAM

  30. RA says:

    Does that come with a side dish, Rasp? 😀

  31. RA says:

    Terry Tit Mouse,

    You are bonkers! “we need another centre back, we look a bit short there.” Look, you muscular, divine Adonis, we have midgets everywhere, and you pick on the CB’s where we have one of only two men over 6 feet tall.

    And as for women with necks of cream — well I would lap them up.

  32. JM says:

    The group of Cech, Courtois, Schwarzer at Chelsea is ahead (in consistency & potential) in the PL for the GK department (on paper and in match experiences).

    On the back 4 defenders (usually for most cases, while Man. Utd will play with a back 3 or 5 under LVG):

    Arsenal’s (Debuchy/Bellerín, Mertesacker/Koscielny/Chambers, Gibbs/Monreal)

    City’s (Zabaleta/Sagna, Kompany/Mangala/Demichelis/Nastasić, Clichy/Kolarov)

    Chelsea’s (Azpilicueta/Ivanović, Cahill/Zouma/JT, Filipe Luís)

    the personnel and their abilities are quite evenly matched.

    I still believe the key to winning the PL eventually, will rest more on the 2 factors:

    (1) How our team defend as a unit on the field (with/without the ball). e.g. with ball – maintain possession while creating attacking and scoring chances; without the ball = close down, intercept and tackle + leading to counterattack.

    (2) How efficient shall our attackers (mainly forwards/midfielders) covert chances into goals (esp. against our direct competitors).

    In regards to any signing of a new CB, what about Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon & Argentina)? He plays (makeshift) left fullback for the Argies, and centre back with Sporting. He is 24 and at 1.87m, of good age and build.
    He wants out of Sporting. (Man Utd is interested in signing). We could “hijack” the deal.

  33. RC78 says:

    Rojo would be a good addition to the squad…I think he is quite effective both as CB and LB, indeed

  34. Norfolk Gooner says:

    RA, I’ve just been reading some of the stupendous comments from yesterday and I came across your unbelievably terrific tribute to the amazing Danny Kaye. Absolutely brilliant!!

    From now on I’m going to join all sports commentators, pundits etc in speaking only in superlatives.

  35. fatgingergooner says:

    It’s interesting that people think a HM will be a wasted player and effect our ability to go forward. How many goals (non penalties) and assists did Arteta get last season?

    Arteta rarely joins attacks anyway, so why not upgrade him with someone who is better defensively?

    I would take Manolas as I don’t think we can expect better as 3rd choice, but I don’t see Tiote as better than Arteta or Flamini.

    If we are going to get a HM, then it has to be top class or not at all.

  36. RA says:


    Danny Kaye and his films were way before my time, but I have seen so many of them on TCM and I got to love them.

    Another one I was tempted to use, yesterday, was from a mock Western film, where he was a cowboy challenged to a shoot-out by a bad hombre.

    His character gets advice (much as we do on blogs, about the footballing who, how, why and where of things) such as – the sun is in the West so keep him to the East – he stands up tall so shoot down low – he shoots from his right so lean to the left, and so on.

    Trying to remember all the tips, he runs them through in his mind as he approaches the baddy, and gets it hopelessly wrong – the sun’s up tall so lean to the West – he squats to his left, so shoot down low – he’s East of his right, so shoot what’s left —-

    When I read about Hums or Dums (HMs or DMs) or just tactical bollix in general, I get all hot and bothered and it gives licence to my febrile mind to roam.

    So thank you for writing a Post that allowed me a little fun.:-)

  37. Bayonne Jean says:

    RC78: Mertesacker or Koscielny are no Skrtl ???? Please, my fellow Slovak may have no vowels, but he has plenty of holes….

    Nonetheless, the biggest need is for another CB, and a versatile defensive-oriented midfielder who can put in a shift at CB if needed.

  38. stevepalmer1 says:

    Evening all, Nice one Raddy. Not read the comments yet but i’m sure theres fors and against.

    With Thomas Vermaelen leaving, which is a real shame, i feel that we still need a CB. Yes Chambers is a fine cover player in fact i feel he is good enough to have a regular spot, but should anything happen to him our cover for 3 positions is blown apart. Personally i would put Chambers in before Mertsacker but many say that Chambers needs time, Merts is as slow as you can be, and that is not right for such a position. even though his positioning is very good but once his down he’s finished.

    Horses for courses, and what that means is we need to find out just where Chambers fits in with this team, seems to me, the manager and supporters feel he can stand in for many positions, but in my mind he is good enough now to hold his own.

    I see him in the Diaby roll, although he has not played there yet, i feel he could be that man we have been after for some time., Tall big and strong with intelligence, and also a good eye for a pass

    I would buy a CB a decent one and leave Merts as backup. Probably get slated but thats my view.

    Seems to me we buy attacking midfielders and we are inundated with them already, Diaby can only be trusted to be a backup player, with his record, and in all honesty i feel he doesn’t deserve to be in the side.

    If we buy a CB and we do all right i wonder how Theo Gnabry and Podolski will fit in.

  39. GunnerN5 says:


    I’ve emailed you a post for this week.

  40. mickydidit89 says:

    Bayonne says: “the biggest need is for another CB, and a versatile defensive-oriented midfielder who can put in a shift at CB if needed”

    And I bet I’m not alone in think “there’s only one Song Billong” 🙂

    Evening all.

  41. California Gooner says:

    Nice post. I saw an interesting blog post on defense the other day that says something like: the players don’t matter that much, defense is all about organization. Anyhow, interesting reading.

  42. chas says:

    “We must also understand that defence is always the work of the collective. Organization, coordination, communication, tactical intelligence, and practice are the key to building that redundancy so vital to a consistently strong defence.”

    “The whole idea that a mythical, superman of a DM would somehow jump in a break play up after a terrible loss of possession is ludicrous.”

    Haha, just as I said at 12.13 really 🙂

    Great article, CG.

  43. Gööner In Exile says:

    Evening all, well done Raddy, I think I’m pretty much in agreement, I think we wouldn’t be getting another centre back if Miquel had come on, but the signing of Chambers could suggest Arsene doesn’t think he is or will develop.

    As for the mythical 6ft 4 destroyer of all things creative I just don’t see it, because to play for Arsene you must be more than a force of destruction, if it was all about that we would have kept Frimpong.

    Many criticise the bookings Flamster gets when he is doing what they expect our fantasy brick shithouse to do. City have bought Ferdinho…after watching him in Charity Shield I’ll go out on a limb and say he will be the first player with a totting up suspension in the PL

    So can we survive with our current defence? Yes….but for me it’s about the rest of the fancy dans helping out by pressing from the front and occupying full backs. When we played Chelsea and Liverpool we had no pace on the wings in front of our full backs so their wide attackers did not have to think about what their attacking runs could leave exposed.

  44. chas says:

  45. mickydidit89 says:

    Motning all


  46. chas says:

    Interesting article about actual attendances, though beating the club up about people paying for and then not coming to the games seems a bit ridiculous to me.

  47. mickydidit89 says:


    Thank you for that link. Superb article.

    Right, now to read the Chas link.

  48. Gööner In Exile says:

    Me too Chas, especially as the club allow plenty of options to fans unable to attend to get rid of the ticket.

    I wonder how many non attendees are in boxes or club level?

    I assume when a box is sold the attendance figure goes up by the capacity of the box, but for every ten man box only 5 might attend, that would soon decrease the actual attendance.

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    Mmm, maybe the reason, as he states, that some of the bigger games attract less people could be down to timing.

    Those games have KO times more buggered about with due to demand from TV Companies.

    If he says about 6,000 pay but don’t attend, travel difficulties would explain that. To the West Country, it’s impossible to get a train back after an evening ko, or even a late Saturday or sunday game.

    Whichever train on a Saturday I get, whether 9, 10 or 11am, there are at least 100 Gooners already from Exeter or Cornwall.

    Multiply that figure by trains coming from other extremities and bingo.

    Oh, and the AFC Exchange is not always a smooth operation 😦

  50. mickydidit89 says:


    When I see gaps, they appear to me to be equally spread, rather than just Club. Although Club levellers do enjoy a longer half time break!

  51. mickydidit89 says:

    Anyway, it’s not the pre-paid ticketers that don’t show up that bother me anything like as much as the thousands that leave early.

    That really annoys me, as it’s way more than the 6k. Blimey, if I do a nine hour round trip for a game, I’m not missing one second.

  52. Big Raddy says:

    I agree that its is the early leavers who annoy most. We are always told they leave to catch trains to the West country or somewhere equally remote 😉

  53. Eddie says:

    can you believe it? Can you just believe it – it is only 2 days to go!! We have survived almost 3 months of endurance and it will all be rewarded in just 2 days !!!

  54. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning all, I’m really disappointed, this morning we’ve only been “linked” to Edison Cavani, Stephane Mbia and Sami Khedira.

    Speculation aint wot it used to be.

  55. Big Raddy says:

    NG. Highlights the declining standard of journalism.

  56. Morning all

    We have a New Post ……………….

  57. mickydidit89 says:

    Cavani!!! Oh yes please

    Khedira? Boring. Defensive.
    Mbia? Boring. Defensive.

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