Of the three key areas that were necessary for Arsene Wenger to fill before the transfer window drew to a close on Monday 1st of September, 2014, the central defensive position is of the most importance, according to many supporters. The other positions i.e. defensive midfield and central attacking positions still have players who can be improvised or play as make-shift before January, when hopefully the manager would sign some more players to strengthen the squad. However, the window closed and only Danny Welbeck, a centre forward was signed from Manchester United. This had since been a subject of worry among the teeming supporters of Arsenal all over the world as the defence was only left with 6 senior team defenders. Now of the 6 senior team defenders available, Mathieu Debuchy has been ruled for the year through injury, to return in January at the earliest; Nacho Monreal has been in and out of the treatment table; Kieran Gibbs is well known to be very susceptible to injuries; and now Laurent Koscielny is a major doubt because of a nagging chronic tendinitis of both Achilles tendons.
After the departures of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona and Johan Djourou to Hamburg, where he spent last season on loan, only Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are left as the experienced and established centre backs for the Gunners. Now Arsenal will nurse one of the duo, Laurent Koscielny through the next four months as he the player has an ongoing Achilles problem that has already ruled him out of one game this season i.e. the 2-2 draw at Everton’s Goodison Park. He suffered a head injury after a head collision with Leicester City’s Jeffrey Schlupp, in the 1-1 draw at Leicester City just before the September international break. The 28-year-old defender pulled out of the France squad for their games against Spain and Serbia in September and has also been ruled out of France’s international engagements this month of October.
Supporters who have heavily criticised the manager, Arsene Wenger over his failure to bring in a central defensive back-up before the window was slammed shut, would now be very sad that their fears have now started playing out. Arsenal was linked to a plethora of defenders so much that one would never have imagined that the manager, who himself admitted to the numerical shortness of the defence, could fail to sign a defender. Kostas Manolas, the Greek defender, who plays for Olympiacos signed for Roma instead of Arsenal despite reports of his closeness to an Arsenal switch and Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Borussia Dortmund who became a subject of an Arsenal switch in the last few days of the transfer window were just some examples. Other defenders in the English Premier League linked to the Gunners include, Matija Nastasic, the Manchester City young defender, Winston Reid the New Zealand defender, who plays for West Ham United and Daniel Agger, the Liverpool defender. Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund and Benedikt Howedes of Germany and Schalke 04 were also mentioned in the media.
Now Arsenal may depend on the fitness of Kieran Gibbs to have some confidence at the back, if Koscielny is ruled out for a while. Gibbs, who is the number one choice for the left full back position is back from an earlier injury problem and has started playing at left back, but he is known to be very fragile and he may just be tackles away from another injury. His availability would mean that Nacho Monreal, who is the second choice left back, would be available as back-up to either Calum Chambers of Per Mertesacker in the central defensive position as make-shift.
Wenger was truly wrong to have ignored the need for a central defensive bolstering before the transfer window closed and many fans would agree to this assertion!