New season is well and truly underway with both European and domestic cup games getting underway in the last couple of weeks. Arsenal and Chelsea both have made impressive starts is Champions and premier league while Manchester United have got off to a mixed start. The Carling cup this mid week also threw up few shock results including both Chelsea and Liverpool being knocked out of the competition at home to teams they were expected to beat comfortably. This has opened up the age old argument of who has the best squad amongst the top three teams. It is often pointed out by many of the so called pundits that Arsenal lack the squad depth and quality needed to sustain a title challenge compared to the two big rivals. However, the mid week results paint a different picture. In order to try and understand who has the best squad of the three I will be analyzing the three teams in terms of squad depth and quality in three different parts. In this first part I attempt to analyze the defense and Goal keepers of the three teams.
Arsenal- M. Alumunia, L Fabianski, V. Mannone, W. Szczesny
Chelsea- P. Cech, R.Turnbull, Hillario
Man Utd.- E. Ven Der Sar, T. Kuszczak, B. Amos
This is one area Arsenal are perceived to be weak by both fans and pundits compared to most of the other teams in the league. Our first choice M. Alumunia is not as bad as many make him out to be but at the same time he is not at the level of both P.Cech or Ven der Sar, who both are amongst the best Gk in the world. Our back up Fabianski is again known for his errors and it is regarded that he is not good enough to be an Arsenal GK. On the other hand Kuszczak is a very solid understudy for Ven der sar but Turnbull is not much better than Fabianski and is prone to making errors similar to those made by Fabianski and Hillario is not much better either. Both B.Amos and W. Szczesny are very promising goal keepers but lack the experience at the highest level.
It is clear that Both Chelsea and Manchester United have advantage over us in this area, specially in the first choices but if one looks at the depth Chelsea do not posses any significant advantage over Arsenal in this area but Manchester United does indeed have the edge over rivals with the quality of the depth in their GK department.
Right full back
Arsenal- B. Sagna,Eboue
Chelsea- J.Bosingwa, B. Ivanovic, P. Ferreira
Man.Utd- G.Neville, J.O’shea, W.Brown, Rafeal
Both Arsenal and Chelsea posses two of the best right full backs in the PL however at Manchester United this is a problem area. This season J. O’shea has been deployed as RB and at his best he is a solid defender, nothing more. They have few players who could play in that pstiton like G. Neville, Rafeal and W. Brown but none of them are of the caliber of Sagna and Bosingwa.
Manchester United might posses the advantage in numbers but in terms of quality both Arsenal and Chelsea are far ahead of them. Ivonovic is slightly better defender than Eboue but Eboue offers more going forward. I feel that in right full back area both Arsenal and Chelsea are equally matched and far ahead of Manchester United in terms of quality.
Left full back
Arsenal- G.Clichy, K. Gibbs
Chelsea- A.Cole, P.Ferreira
Man.Utd- P. Evra, J. O’shea
Clichy is a very goof left full back, however one has to admit that both Cole and Evra are arguably the two best left full backs in the game. Clichy still is young and will continue to develop and improve while both Evra and Cole are arguably at their peaks and one can expect little development from either of them. When one looks at the back up option Gibbs is far better than the other two. Gibbs is pushing for regular place with club and country and he is rated highly by those who have followed his progress over the years.
Both Chelsea and United might posses a better player in this area in the starting eleven but we seem to have better quality in back up and when one considers the fact that both Clichy and Gibbs will develop and improve a lot not just over years but through a season one feels the advantage the rivals gain with their first choice is off set through the quality we posses in back up and that we are evenly matched.
Arsenal- T. Varmaelan, L. Koscielny, S. Squillaci, J. Djourou
Chelsea- J.Terry, Alex, B.Ivanovic, J.Bruma
Man.Utd- R.Ferdinand, N.Vidic, J. Evens, W. Brown, C.Smalling
In the recent seasons this is another area many felt that Arsenal were weak compared to their rivals and at time last season this was proven right as wee seemed to lack the depth that was required. However, over the summer this seems to have been addressed and now we do posses four CB who could come in and play well in PL. Both Manchester United and Chelsea posses big name players in this area, however they are coming towards the end of their carriers and is highlighted well by the number of games Ferdidnand seems to miss in the recent years and the loss of speed is clear for everyone to see in Terry’s game. In Varmaelan we posses one of the brightest young CB in the game, who was arguably the best CB in PL last season and continues to improve every season. The early signs are that both the new signings look great captures and will add much needed strength and quality to over defense.
When one considers the fact that both Chelsea and Manchester United have an aging and injury prone defense to our young and ever improving defense we seem to be in a better position, however, of course the first choice CB’s of both Chelsea and Manchester United posses far more PL experience and been part of title winning defense. When one filters in all those factors it is clear that there is not much difference in the quality and depth in this area in all three clubs apart from experience.
For long our back five has been considered to be our weakest area compared to our main rivals, however this season that un-balance has been addressed to a great level. In terms of quality and quantity the gap seems to far less than what it was in the past, however what we lack is premier league experience at the back and that can only be rectified through playing time. The new CB’s have settled in well and Arsene Wenger will have no second thought of playing them regularly to give them the experience they need.
Our weakest area has improved significantly over the summer and we sure have closed the gap to both United and Chelsea. In part two I will be analyzing the midfield of the three clubs.
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