Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Is Sebastien Squillaci Wenger's Worst Signing Ever?

Callum D'SouzaSenior Writer IFebruary 8, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea tackles Sebastien Squillaci of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on October 3, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

As Arsenal squandered a 4-0 lead in the final 22 minutes of their encounter with Newcastle, fans and critics were left bemused, as an aging, unfashionable Newcastle outfit managed to claw their way back into a match that after 26 minutes had Arsenal four goals up. But that's football, isn't it?

There are a number of moments that can be the catalyst in Arsenal's demise. First and foremost is the brain snap of Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby. Upon receiving a precarious challenge from counterpart Joey Barton, the Frenchman reacted by grabbing Barton's neck and shoving him to the ground. As players came to greet the incident, Diaby then pushed Kevin Nolan, who charged in emphatically.

Diaby's reaction warranted a straight red, but if you look at the 24-year-old's history one may not be as harsh on the imposing midfielder. Diaby has endured an injury ridden career since joining the Gunners. In 2006, the French international suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle against Sunderland from a challenge not unlike Bartons. Many believe had injuries not had such a toll, the former Auxerre midfielder would be in a class of his own.

Another catalyst in Arsenal's demise was the inconsistent and poor refereeing of Phil Dowd, who despite sending off Diaby for rough, violent conduct, failed to reprimand Kevin Nolan, who wrestled Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczensy to the ground by his neck.

Also, Dowd awarding Newcastle a second penalty which appeared incredibly harsh after Dowd claimed Tomas Rosicky had fouled Mike Williamson in the air despite no contact. But, alas, one should not blame the referee as Dowd is only human.

A big turning point in the encounter, that has gone very much unnoticed, was the injury sustained by Johan Djourou. The imposing Swiss has had a terrific season so far after 2009-10 was spent nursing a severe knee injury that ensured Djourou played only the last game of the EPL season.

But since December, having returned to peak fitness, Djourou has led the Arsenal defense with ease, and has helped mitigate the absence of defensive leader Thomas Vermaelen. The 24-year-old has also formed a superb partnership in the centre half with Laurent Koscienly; the pair has played an integral role in the Gunners recent form.

However, the Swiss limped off three minutes after the main break, having suffered a knee injury. It had been a game to savor for Djourou, who secured his first ever Arsenal goal with an emphatic header in the third minute.

However, the injury forced the only remaining fit Arsenal centre half onto the field, Sebastien Squillaci. Que disaster.

The Frencham arrived at the Emirates in the final days of the Summer transfer window from Spanish giant Seville for £3.2 million. Brought in as a defensive reinforcement after Arsene Wenger refused to re-sign the likes of William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, Philippe Senderos, Sol Campbell and Kerrea Gilbert.

The rarity of the Squillaci signing was that Wenger rarely made transfers for players over 30, this being just the fourth. At 30, Squillaci is an experienced leader who has amassed over 150 matches in the French Ligue One alongside 21 national caps for France.

However, Squillaci's start to his Arsenal career has not been strong. Vermaelen's Achilles injury in August, that has kept the Belgium sidelined since, has ensured the former Lyon defender has taken the main defensive reigns.

Squillaci has struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, alongside the physicality and the early defensive woes that Arsenal endured were largely down to the Frenchman's efforts. Squillaci has also formed a tainted partnership with Laurent Koscienly; the pair fail to thrive under one another while Koscienly excels beside Djourou.

In a match against Fulham in November, Koscienly was concussed and injured after Squillaci charged into the solid defender. The superb form that elevated the Gunners to second place in December and January barely featured Squillaci; the Frenchman has played twice in Arsenal's seven game unbeaten run in the Premier League. Both times the Gunners have drawn.

Fans have not grown to the aging Frenchman either, and with Wenger rumoured to be chasing Mamadou Sakho, and the likes of young guns Kyle Bartley and Ignasi Miguel set to make first-team appearances in the near future, Squillaci could be on his way out.

But is he Wenger's worst signing ever?