Season Assessment: Centre Backs

June 24, 2017

We have a lot of them don’t we? Do we need so many? Are they all good enough to do the job? Do we need to improve on their quality?

The season was definitely split into two as regards the defence, with the move to a Back 3 making giving the CB’s more support. But … one must question why we conceded so many goals whilst operating AW’s favoured Back 4 formation, Tony Adams etc were rightly critical.

Arsenal conceded more goals from set pieces than any of the Top 10 teams. Given the quality of the individuals one can only surmise this was an organisational problem, but why did things improve with the new system? How does that affect defending a corner?

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Mustafi: First season. Started well. Got injured. Came back less assured. Has undoubted quality and seems to be a leader as he is very vocal. To be honest I expected more considering how much we paid for him but then I remember that MC paid €50m for Stones 🙂

Gabriel: Love his attitude. The man is a passionate defender, grimacing his way through the game. His spats with Costa are great fun. Prone to the odd positional error. Improving but I am not sure of his AFC future as the youngsters come through.

Koscielny. Another superb season. Probably the PL’s finest CB. Pacy, determined, intelligent. The first man on the team sheet. And … a worthy Captain.

Holding. An excellent prospect. His Cup Final performance was an indicator of how good this man will be. Versatile enough to play as Bellerin’s replacement. Mr. Wenger showing he still has the ability to find a diamond.

Monreal: Has to be included as he did some sterling work in the centre. Not sure I want him there on a regular basis. Where does he fit in when we play a Back 3 and how does he feel about the signing of Kolasinac?

Mertesacker: What can one say about his single start? Perfection. I love the BFG.

Chambers: His season in a relegated team has allowed him to mature and blossom which can be evidenced by his excellence with the England U-21’s. With Kos and BFG hitting their mid-30’s the future is bright.

We have an excellent balance of youth, age and experience in the heart of defence which is not something which could be said a few years ago. No signings needed.

written by Big Raddy.


Season Assessment: Full Backs

June 15, 2017

If you have been reading AA over the past few years you will know that BR knows sweet FA about tactics. This makes it difficult to judge the effectiveness of our full backs whose jobs change depending upon the formation. It was much easier to critique a performance in the days of Bob Mcnab and Pat Rice; things changed with the excellence and athleticism of Ashley Cole.

So, full backs or wing backs? How did they perform last season?

The first thing to say is that we improved once Mr Wenger tried the Back 3, the gaping holes in the defence disappeared but can the FB’s be blamed? You decide?

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Monreal: Dreadful start to the season. Unable to stop attacks down his flank which led to crosses and shots flying towards Petr. By season’s end he was back to being one of the best FB’s in the league but was he now a CB, a FB or a WB? Nacho has made over 150 appearances for Arsenal and as much as I like him I still hope AFC will sign a better defender. That said, one of my highlights of the season was the triple block of Costa’s shot in the FACF by Nacho, Holding and BFG. Real commitment.

Monreal always gives 100%, is passionate, versatile, combative and this season scored a vital goal at Wembley. He signed a long-term contract in 2016, so I guess it will be Gibbs who is leaving.

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Gibbs: I hate to be critical of a proper Arsenal man but Gibbs hasn’t achieved his potential. A sparkling early career leading to England caps had me thinking he was the successor to Ashley. He isn’t. Good player for sure but we need better (and hopefully we have already signed him).

Keiron started only 5 games last term, and 3 of those were at left wing back – a position he did well in and we certainly improved defensively with both Nacho and Keiron working in tandem.

For his sake, he needs regular first team football and I expect Keiron to be sold in the summer.

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Bellerin: Fantastic player when fully fit and in form. Amongst the very best in his position as is indicated by the media hyping a move to Barca. Hector had his worst season in the shirt thanks to a series of injuries. IMO he returned too early to the first team which affected his performances and it was only at season’s end when we saw the real Bellerin – a player with tactical awareness, a superb tackler and the fastest player in the squad.

Some awful haircuts this season as Hector attempted to be become a fashion icon. What is wrong with a short B & S?

I expect him to leave in a couple of season’s but by then he will have won the CL and PL with Arsenal.

Holding/Ox/Gabriel:  In here as an addendum because they all filled Bellerin’s position during the season. Not did the job as well as Hector but nonetheless were not embarrassed . The Ox at RWB worked better than expected.

Will we see the Back 3 experiment continue next season? And if so, where does Hector fit into the formation? Perhaps this is why there is so much media speculation, possibly activated by Bellerin’s agent.

All in all, our FB’s did not give enough defensive support to their CB’s and this resulted in too many goals conceded from wing positions. Could do better.

written by Big Raddy