The departures of former club captain and our of favour centre back Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona, as well as first choice right back and make shift yet effective centre back Bacary Sagna to Manchester City, have rightfully sent alarm bells that have yet to stop ringing in the ears of the Gunners faithful.
Although the first two names in the heart of defense have remained at the club in French international Laurent Koscielny and now retired German international Per Mertesacker, it’s their deputies on the bench (or lack thereof) that are the real cause for concern. New acquisition Calum Chambers has indeed looked promising in his first few outings for the club in a central defending position, bagging a full 90 minutes of action there in the comeback against Everton with Koscielny sidelined due to an injury.
However when the level at which he is capable of performing is put into the context of challenging for trophies, it is clear to see that the young man is not quite the rock Arsenal need. What’s more, despite great technical abilities being important, what’s even more important is developing an understanding with your fellow centre back; this is something which Chambers is still learning.
Further down the pecking order is Nacho Monreal, who let’s face it, has no business being a centre back. A natural left back by trade, his utilization as a centre back in the pre season game against the New York Red Bulls yielded a performance so poor that it has engrained nightmares that just wont go away in the heads of most Arsenal supporters. You could of course make the argument that perhaps club manager Arsene Wenger was simply testing his squad to see what they were capable of – and you’d probably be right – but the fact that Monreal has been used as a centre back to no great avail in cup games last season means the moniker of ‘fourth choice CB’ simply cannot apply.
Then there is of course the young Isaac Hayden, about whom not many know much. His appearances as centre back for the England U-19’s certainly give some encouragement, but fans must again be faced by the stark fact that winning trophies at the highest level at a club like Arsenal is far too unlikely to occur with players of this level. Though Chambers is definitely more talented and has shown his capabilities, both him and Hayden have plenty of experience to rack up before they can stand in against the likes of Europe’s elite – something that they may have to do if injuries plague the centre back position.
The signing of Sanchez added another star-pin to the already star studded midfield the club has. The further acquisition of Welbeck, be it in light of Olivier Giroud’s injury or not, meant that the club sured up their striking department as well. Yet the defense remains wanting; whereas English top dogs Manchester City have Sagna and Nastasic as back up centre backs and Chelsea have Ivanovic who can play in that role, Arsenal are forced to contend a season of cup and league competitions with Chambers, Monreal and Hayden as their contingency plan.
Not ideal, to say the least.