Wednesday 18 May 2011

Work rate worries but central defensive optimism

I’ve decided to post twice today. I feel impelled to say something more about Manchester City and, in particular, Carlos Tevez. What has he got that our forwards haven’t? Skill? No. Ability? No. Pace. No way. What then? Tevez has got an incredible work rate. Robin van Persie, for all the virtues, can’t match Tevez’s work rate. Few players can. And Arsenal need to sign a few more that cover every blade of grass.

My favourite player, Andrey Arshavin, has been tackling back more lately, but as Wenger rightly pointed out is ‘economical’ with his effort level. That means the rest of the team has to work harder, as they did when we had Thierry Henry in the team. The other had to compensate.

But now, if you go through the team you will find that we don’t out-run opponents anymore. When we lost Matthieu Flamini we lost the hardest working member of the side. He has never been replaced. Instead we’ve got a lot of players who operate in cruise control. That’s not much good when you’re battling, but fine when everything going relatively well.

On the train, I picked up a used copy of The Sun and in it they described us as inferior to City in the ‘willpower’ department. I personally think the ‘will’ is there, but the running power is not there. We need someone with an engine to supplement our squad this summer.

I don’t agree with The Sun that City have better players and management than us, but if Wenger doesn’t address this problem, we might have to conclude that our league position doesn’t lie.

Nevertheless, I don’t go along with the idea that if we don’t change anything this summer we’ll finish outside the top four. It’s possible, but unlikely, I feel. If we change nothing, we’ll probably finish fourth.

Why? Liverpool have had a revival under former boss Kenny Dalglish, but I think this revival will be brief. It’s true that the club have spent well (unlike Arsenal) bringing in Carroll and Suarez, but I think they still need to do some major squad rebuilding before they can oust us from fourth spot.

Spurs have come up short again and unless they spend big, they’ll be even further behind us next season. They have even worse defensive problems than we do, although I heard a Gooner at the weekend saying he wants William Gallas to come back. I never wanted Gallas to leave, so I can understand that sentiment, but I don’t think we should entertain the idea of a Gallas return.

I’m relatively optimistic about our central defence. Laurent Koscielny could be colossus, but not in the way Tony Adams was. Instead, I believe our Kos, who’s no lettuce, is a cultured defender in the mould of a Bobby Moore or a Franz Beckenbauer. Yes, you could say I have a lot of faith in Kos! Maybe it’s misplaced, it’s too soon to say.

The same applies to Johan Djourou. This guy is a great defender in the making. But maybe he’s too similar to Kos. Perhaps that’s why so many fans want Gary Cahill to join us from Bolton. I’m not so sure myself, but we do need a dominant traditional centre half. Could that be someone else with a Bolton connection, Kyle Bartley, currently on loan at Rangers?

Meanwhile, continuing on the centre-half theme, Thomas Vermaelen is many people’s choice as Cesc Fabregas’ successor as skipper (and let’s face it, we have to think about the armband as Cesc seems set to leave this summer).
So I have some optimism about our central defensive future. We do need an extra centre back though to add the squad. I’ve not even given up on Sebastien Squillaci yet, but he’s not inspired yet, has he?

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