Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A Different Dilemma at Left-Back

Since the sale of Ashley Cole in 2006, Arsenal have not had a reliable left-back. Wenger put faith in the Englishman and many were hoping that he would be an Arsenal legend and possible future captain.

I'm quite annoyed that I couldn't find anything without Gervinho!
He departed for Chelsea on deadline day, leaving many fans annoyed. Clichy was a good enough replacement (I rated him quite highly), but his frailties soon shone through: his defensive ability wasn't great, often being caught out of position. The Frenchman’s attacking play didn't cover up for his lack of defensive qualities either; I remember numerous crosses that were kicked straight out or over everybody’s heads. Kieran Gibbs looked a good prospect when Clichy was injured and had his first international call-up at 20, big things were expected of him, but he had quite a few injuries and Gooners around the world cringed when Clichy and Gibbs were injured, resulting in the hapless Traore being deployed at left-back.
Gael Clichy was sold to Manchester City and most fans were hoping for a good quality replacement to be bought. Wenger decided to stick with regularly-injured Gibbs and bought Andre Santos as back-up. Vermaelen also played left-back for a few matches after Santos's weaknesses were shown.

After 7 years worrying about this position, Arsenal fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief. We now have two good quality left backs. This season our defence was a lot better, and other than the pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny, I think the full-backs playing well helped considerably.

Looking at our two options at left back: Kieran Gibbs is a 23-year old international who hasn't been in the England squad for a while but can expect more game time soon. He seems to have shaken off most of his injury problems and has good defensive qualities. He linked up well with Podolski this season and had 5 assists in 22 starts in the Premier League compared to Sagna's 0 in 25 starts. Nacho Monreal is a Spanish international (11 caps). He is 27-years old, so he is in the peak of his career. He has a good injury record. I haven’t seen him play that much, but he seems a quality player.

Unlike transfer windows gone by, left-back is the only position where Arsenal are not being linked with players. The difficulty for Wenger is deciding which of the two should start when both are fit. I personally prefer Gibbs because he is quicker, younger and can still develop into a better player. Towards the end of this season Gibbs seemed to be first-choice, but as we saw with Vermaelen and Szczesny: that can change quickly.

1 comment:

  1. Monreal is solid but I want Gibbs there as much a possible both because he is better than Monreal and has more upside. While I don't know if he can surpass Cole for skill, I hop he will; he is already miles ahead in quality and VVC.