Arsenal: A case for the defence

A couple of Arsenal defeats to sides in the lower reaches of the Premier League is par for the course of a Gunners’ season nowadays. Gone are the days of Bould, Adams et al; a rearguard tighter than a Ryanair seat.

At the moment, when news is transferred to a football supporter that Arsenal has lost a game, the reaction is one of indifference rather than the bewilderment you’d previously come across.

If one were to click here for tickets at the Emirates, they would stumble across what looked like a good defence in the programme notes, only to discover a hideously, incoherent mess when the same personnel took to the pitch. For all the talent Arsenal’s back-line possesses, this never seems to come to fruition when the studs meet the grass.

The early season good run of form, one that included a host of clean sheets, proved a false dawn for fans of the North London club. Every ‘Gooner’ you’d give up 2 minutes of your time for would wax lyrical about how Steve Bould in his new Assistant Manager role, had plugged the metaphorical gap so tight that even the introduction of a Mr. Bramble to the back four would not have caused any harm.

Alas, this never turned into a long-term affair and come December, the Red part of the capital was back to its previous manner, with defeats at the hands of Norwich and Swansea. Not to forget the combined total of 8 goals conceded in games against Premier League giants Reading and Fulham.

For all the slow Giraffe jibes, Per Meresacker is a composed and reliable centre-back. After all, you don’t reach 85 caps for the German national side before the age of 29 if you’re bad in your position. The same could be said for Thomas Vermalen; while he isn’t quite as solid as his German counterpart, his ability to start attacks from a deep position as well as the fantastic reading of the game he possesses, make him a terrific all-round defender. Not only this, he is also from Belgium, the footballing hipster’s nation of choice.

Similar approval could be uttered when talking about the full-backs in Arsenal’s fearsome foursome. Bakary Sagna has proven to be one of the league’s most consistent right-backs in recent seasons. Furthermore, Kieran Gibbs has the potential to be Ashley Cole’s long-term replacement in the England side, providing he starts to shovel down as much calcium humanly possible in the next few years, because at the moment, his bones have got as much chance of staying healthy for a season as Barcelona have of playing a pass over the 30 yard mark.

So evidence suggests that the raw materials are present in the Gunners’ defence, but whether they get turned into the efficient fortress other club’s once held in so high regard is another story. But you never know, purchasing Arsenal tickets for 2013 may be a gateway into the Catenaccio of this decade…or maybe not.