Arsenal and defending—two words that don’t go together.
Arsene Wenger has built his squad on free-flowing attacking football and times without number, his team has been caught out at the back. There are even times when the Gunners shoot themselves in the foot.
As expected, injuries, suspensions and decline of form took their toll on Arsenal’s defensive rearguard. Arsene Wenger managed to use almost all the defenders in the club’s payroll at some point in the season.
While the big guns featured regularly in the Premier League and the Champions League, the Capital One Cup served as a testing ground for some young guns and fringe players, and the dead-rubber game against Olympiakos saw deadwood like Sebastien Squillaci get a run-out as well.
While Per Mertesacker cemented his status as Arsene Wenger’s first-choice defender, Thomas Vermaelen partnered the gentle giant by the mere fact that he was the skipper, because his form painted a different picture. When the manager realized how appalling his skipper had become, he made the bold move to axe the Belgian. He was replaced by a resurgent Laurent Koscielny.
While Wenger shuffled between his defensive trio of Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Koscielny, there was no room for Johan Djourou, who was shipped out to Hannover 96. As for Sebastien Squillaci and Ignasi Miquel, they are living on borrowed time.
In the fullback positions, Bacary Sagna’s second leg fracture last season paved the way for Carl Jenkinson to get some first-team action under his belt. On Sagna’s return, he was drafted into the team and failed to replicate his form of yesteryear.
On the left, Kieran Gibbs was an automatic starter, but his fitness allowed Andre Santos to put up his calamitous outings on a consistent basis. With Andre Santos failing to impress and Gibbs suffering one of his trademark injuries, Wenger wasted no time in delving into the transfer window to acquire Nacho Monreal’s services.
This is the second installment of a four-post series focused on Arsenal’s performances in the 2012/13 season. I’ve already shared my views on the performances of the goalkeepers, but today’s post is focused on Arsenal’s defensive rearguard.
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