Arsenal FC: Gary Cahill or Christopher Samba—Who Should Become a Gunner?

Robin SAnalyst IJune 16, 2011

It goes without saying that Arsenal need new centre backs to bolster their wobbly defence. Not so surprisingly, a multitude of defenders have been linked with a move to Arsenal already.

Wenger though has said that he needs taller, experienced centre backs to plug holes in the defence.

The priority seems to be experienced Premiership defenders and that means either Gary Cahill or Chris Samba could be an Arsenal player by August.

There's also a possibility of Wenger signing both, but that's highly unlikely given the shrewd nature of the French manager.

Having already failed in their attempt to sign Samba in January, it now looks he's the most likely one that Wenger is going to sign out of the two.

Also, Samba is the cheaper option of the two, which is enough to get Wenger excited. Samba's desire to play in the Champions League will also aid Arsenal in their bid to get the giant defender for a reasonable price.

In all honesty, I would prefer Cahill over Samba. That's the more objective choice. Out of the two, the former is more equipped to succeed at the topmost level.

If you need an immovable object in your defence to win all the aerial battle and physical duels, then Samba would be the obvious choice. But clubs from the higher echelons always need multidimensional players with as little weaknesses as possible.

It's difficult to find such players consistently and that's why top clubs are always willing to pay over the odds to secure the long-term future of multifaceted players, except Arsenal, of course.

Cahill is one such player and, being English, he's understandably overpriced. But the relatively high price shouldn't mire the quality of Cahill.

He's comfortable on the ball, very good aerially and is a dominant figure at the heart of the defence that every club covet, more so Arsenal having conceded goals at an alarming rate in the last two seasons.

It's common knowledge that Cahill has a £17 million buy-out clause in his current contract at Bolton and a club willing to match that valuation could pretty much guarantee the signature of Cahill.

Considering the financial predicament that Bolton find themselves in, Owen Coyle can't fend off bids as long as they're reasonable.

This is where Wenger must show more ambition and urgency. Sticking to his usual, stringent transfer policy would make it impossible to sign the gritty England defender.

And the traditional drawn out negotiations and talks would make that much more difficult considering the genuine interest shown by cash-rich Manchester City.

Arsenal can't take Manchester City head-on because they can offer Champions League football as well as enormous wages, much higher than what Arsenal could offer. Hence, the quicker Arsenal maneuver, the easier it would be for them to sign the coveted defender.

If Arsenal find £17 million repugnant, they always have the option of Samba who could be available for £10 million or so, which is the more typical Wenger signing.

Samba is a monster of a defender but you can be critical of his inability to make cultured passes.

Also, he's a tad slower compared to the Arsenal standard and swift strikers can readily beat him with a quick turn of pace.

That said, Samba hardly gives space for attackers to get past him because of his enormous frame and gets away with fouls in the box more often than say Laurent Koscielny, because of his physical attributes.

It's needless to say that Arsenal badly need such a gigantic figure to give the barbaric tribal forces like Stoke City, Wolverhampton, etc. a taste of their own medicine.

Samba is not a continental style of player, so might not make much of an impact in the Champions League where the ball is usually passed around compared to the Premier League's long-ball tactics adopted by certain Premiership teams.

However, it's worth noting that Arsenal already have the likes of Thomas Vermaelen and Koscielny to forge a solid partnership in the Champions League ties.

Koscielny has proved against Barcelona how good he can be against teams that play along the ground. However, he's quiet susceptible to high balls.

Arsenal's inability to defend set-pieces has been well documented in recent years with Wenger doing absolutely nothing to address the situation.

But he can't turn a blind eye forever and this summer will see him bringing players to address that issue which makes Samba the hot favorite, coupled with his relatively low price tag.

There's another possibility, though unlikely.

Arsenal could sign both Samba and Cahill for a combined fee of around £26 million and, considering how pathetic Arsenal have been defensively in recent seasons, that's worth pondering.

It would suddenly make Arsenal extremely strong at the heart of defence with options left, right and centre. Also, it would equip Arsenal with the necessary resources to withstand the most doomed injury crisis if that were to arise.

Another reason why it's worth a look is the impending departure of Gael Clichy which would give Wenger another headache, as he can't rely on the injury-prone understudy Kieran Gibbs with regular first-team duty.

I also can't stress enough how tough it is to find quality left backs these days. Arsenal are known for producing top-notch left backs and they already have two highly talented prodigies in Gibbs and Pedro Botelho, so might not need more left backs.

Until these two develop—that day is not too far away—Vermaelen could be used as a makeshift left back if Arsenal have enough quality options to choose from to play at centre half.

That would be possible if Arsenal signed both Samba and Cahill. In the long run, it would prove to be a better choice than investing in a new left back.

I have analysed all the possible options with both the players. I, for one, feel Arsenal should sign Cahill who is at his peak and a top player ready to make the jump to a club of his level.

And I don't see any reason why Arsenal can't spend £17 million to buy out the release clause of this player given how poor they have been defensively, unless Wenger sticks to his penny-pinching ways once again.

If that bid fails or Manchester City hijacks the move, then Arsenal should waste no time in signing Samba. However, how many of you would like Wenger to sign both Samba and Cahill?

Finally, thanks to Opta, a little bit of statistics pertaining to this discourse: Gary Cahill won more aerial challenges than any other defender in the 2010-11 Premier League.  


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