The Curious Case of Arsenal’s Defense: Retain Sagna and Give Vermaelen Game Time
Despite the fact that some personnel in Arsenal’s attack are taking all the plaudits for their recent outstanding performances thus far, it’s high time we have a detailed look of some of the headlines dominating at the defense. Gooner Daily welcomes guest writer, O. Valentine, an avid Arsenal fan, as he shares his thoughts on the current situations surrounding Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen…
In recent weeks, the rumor mills and gossip wheels in the red sphere of North London have been spilling salivating transfer possibilities that have invariably kept Arsenal enthusiasts busy.
In the wake of Arsenal’s spectacular run of form, the insatiability seems obvious amongst pundits and fans alike that have largely opined that the team still exudes some void and that only prompt reinforcement – from the winter transfer market of course – would salvage the quest to end the eight years trophy drought by May.
While everyone would categorically applaud the unforeseen arrival of Mesut Ozil which has further harmonized the sturdiness and competitiveness of the team, the attack and defense – especially the center- and right back positions are not yet to magnet such encomium.
Evidently, the defensive partnership of the regular back four which consists of Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna have been firing on all cylinders. The telepathy between Koscielny and Mertesacker is a damn pleasurable sight and the full backs balance their defensive and offensive plays superbly.
However, there have been signs of unsettledness surrounding Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen as the former is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal while the latter has been frozen out of first-team action.
Now every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media are crisscrossing the Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A, Bundasliga and La Liga, giving Wenger some wild and weird ideas by unearthing random possible replacements for the CB and RB position in the event of Sagna and Vermaelen’s departure.
Bacary Sagna is one of the club’s loyal stalwarts besides Tomas Rosicky, Nicklas Bendtner and returnee Mathieu Flamini. His Arsenal career – spanning from when he joined from AJ Auxerre 2007 is currently reaching its twilight and by winter he’s permitted to speak to new suitors.
Sagna has shown great commitment to the club over the years and his performances on the pitch have always been downright consistent. His mobility, agility, running down the flanks and covering for the wingers are worth commending and he has good technical abilities: cutting the ball at the touch line, sending crosses into the 18 yard and his often clean tackles.
Furthermore, his versatility on the pitch is unquestionable and has been working wonders for the team. He’s a typical Gunner and having stayed through the years, he clearly understands the philosophy and tenets that guides the club. He’s grown to become a valuable asset to the team and the Arsenal hierarchy must do everything in their power to retain his services.
Yes, he’s above the 30-year-old threshold but in my honest opinion, Carl Jenkinson has not garnered enough maturity and tactical judgment to take over the wheels completely. He’s a good player with a lot of potential but his rawness and naivety has been exposed countless times. He also needs to work hard on his distribution and positional awareness as he has proved that he’s susceptible to errors, which is rather understandable for a player his age.
The good thing about the lad is that he’s willing to work hard to improve himself and he’s a Gooner by heart so he will have the backing of the fans for years to come. Arsene Wenger has done well to deputize him in games when Sagna has missed through injuries as well as lowly Cup ties that can further enhance his football education.
The painful tale of Thomas Vermaelen still remains sour in the mouth of every true thotoughbred Gunner. After arriving from Ajax, he rose to prominence in his debut campaign to become one of best players in the team as well as earning a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
Even the captaincy was laced on him deservedly after Robin van Persie departed to Manchester United. He became a fan favorite with a catchy nickname, the Verminator, but his fall from grace came earlier than expected.
Injury kick-started it and the meteoric rise of Koscienly/Mertesacker partnership cemented his predicament.
He even professed his desire to stay and fight for his place but Wenger’s consistent rigid selection policy is not helping his plight. The manager hardly rotates his starting XI and while the players getting regular game time start to suffer from fatigue, the players rotting on the bench (like Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal, Nicklas Bendtner et al) will be extremely match rusty, which won’t help the team’s cause.
Now he’s contemplating calling it quits and every other person seems to be giving him the nod to go away but I want him to stay. I know a lot of clubs would desire to have him on their team.
It’s a World Cup year and he needs to get a consistent run of games to get a place in the Belgium national team. I’m no soothsayer but I see a quick resurrection of his once glittering form, like in the case of Aaron Ramsey.
Following the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, Ramsey was tasked with the heavy burden of being Arsenal’s creative hub but he struggled for form and fitness making him a lightning rod for vitriol and abuse. After rediscovering his form, Ramsey is an unstoppable juggernaut and he has already smashed in nine goals this season with the latest being a magnificent solo effort against Norwich.
There are no arguments that Vermaelen’s form was very poor last season but he needs some faith and trust from the gaffer and fans. Unfortunately, Wenger is doing the exact opposite by not rotating his center backs despite the fact that the Gunners are considerably light in this position.
Honestly, I expected most fans to clamor for Sagna and Vermaelen to stay at the club, rather than deepening their woes by the unsolicited marketing of possible replacements who are in fact not better off.
If Arsenal can keep Bacary Sagna and give Vermaelen more games to rediscover his form, then we don’t need any defensive alien from Jupiter via the January winter market.
I Remain a Gunner Till Lucifer Repents!
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