The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings


By Matt Sadler
December 11 2017

Sorry this is a bit late. Frankly it was awful to watch. Arsenal were all over the place defensively, surprise surprise, and were very slow and one-dimensional going forward. We are so, so lucky that Southampton only scored one, we were able to equalise and none of our league rivals won either. We got away with one really.

So, some stuff to consider...

A big problem at the moment is that we're just carrying far too many passengers. Too many players are out of form and need to be dropped. I'm going to highlight the three main culprits:

1) Koscielny is in his 30s and has a history of injury problems. Too frequently we're seeing him giving the ball away, diving in for tackles/ challenges that he just isn't winning, and bouncing off/ getting thrown around by more powerful opponents. He is (or should be, at least!) finished at the top level.

2) Do we all agree that Bellerin has regressed? In that starting eleven he was basically our only source of pace, but I genuinely cannot remember the last time I saw him go past a left back or even win a foot race. Maybe 2015? Not good enough. His crossing and decision making in the final third is poor. He needs to be dropped.

3) I don't think Xhaka is helped by the way he is being used, but that is another argument. The reality right now is that, whilst he can string passes around with the best of them at times, too often he is guilty of these sloppy/ complacent moments. His concentration has been suspect all season. He is another who needs to be dropped.

On top of those three, you throw in the fact that Kolasinac isn't as effective going forward as he was at the start of the season, Monreal isn't playing as well as he was earlier in the season, Alexis is often a hindrance, etc, and things aren't looking good. I doubt Wenger will do it, because he is very loyal and inflexible, but we have squad players like Holding, Maitland-Niles, Wilshere, etc, who we should really consider bringing in for these consistent non-performers.

The combined age of our three centre backs was 96... Mertesacker should be nowhere near our starting eleven. Rob Holding hasn't been as good this season as he was towards the end of last season, but he should be ahead of Mertesacker in the pecking order, and once he regains his match fitness I'm sure Calum Chambers should be as well. I'm hesitant to bash Koscielny and Monreal too much for yesterday, because Mertesacker is so slow and immobile and he clearly had an effect on their performances, but as mentioned above, Koscielny is done at the top level and you could argue that 31 year old Monreal is on the decline as well. He certainly hasn't been as good recently as he was earlier in the season. Centre half is another area that is going to need some serious investment before long.

RATINGS

Cech - 7. Couldn't do much about the goal. Good save to stop Austin scoring a second.

Koscielny - 5. Poor again.
Mertesacker - 4. At fault for the goal. He's slow and immobile, and it effects others in the team. Should be nowhere near an Arsenal starting eleven.
Monreal - 5. Not at his best, but was often left exposed.

Bellerin - 5. Poor again.
Xhaka - 5. Sums us up as a team. He'll play some great balls, but then he'll also be guilty of some shockingly sloppy play as well. Didn't do enough defensively or going forward.
Ramsey - 6. Worked hard but to little avail. Had a good effort well saved. Struggled with his hamstring towards the end.
Kolasinac - 6. Got forward well at times. Did better than Bellerin but we need more quality from him.

Ozil - 6. Good at times but drifted in and out of the game.
Lacazette - 5. Little service so mostly fed of scraps. Skyed a half-chance.
Alexis - 5. So, so careless in possession. He has been poor this season but you leave him on because he may produce a moment, like when he crossed for Giroud's equaliser.

Subs:

Welbeck - 4. No impact as he hardly had a touch.
Wilshere - 5. Made some good runs but expected more.
Giroud - 6. Great header for the equaliser.


pqs: qs:
The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Arsenal Times (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 14:00

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:12:13:23:05:24 by Padre Pio.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Boston Gooner (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 23:04

Matty we have been in a mess for awhile now.
And its just getting worse.
So many of our player like you say are at the end of their careers.
We often moan on here in the past that we need 2 or 3 new players signing in the summer.
But the reality is if we are a so called top club and want to compete we need a hatful of players and bloody good ones at that.



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Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: mapleleafgooner (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 23:27

Remember a few seasons ago, Wenger defended his decision not to bring in too many new players as he believed keeping the same team together for 2 to 3 seasons will improve team understanding and create a strong bond amongst the players thereby increasing our title hopes. Well I guess that didn't work out very well and instead, we see players regressed due to them knowing that their places are safe as long as they stay healthy.

The Wenger doctrine to team building has failed.

Time for an overhaul. Either change the system (ie reward in form players with starting spots) or change the manager.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Shane (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 23:48

Mertesacker hasn't looked up for it all season. Even his body language earlier in the campaign was one of a man who didn't really give a f*ck which, for Mertesacker, is pretty surprising, given his character.

I agree he shouldn't have been kept on, but he's still perhaps my favourite Arsenal defender since Toure.

I think his debut was against Swansea and I remember thinking, 'We've badly needed someone like this' and all he did was hoof the ball up the other end of the pitch to make me think that. When you've got footballing centre-backs like Koscielny or Vermaelen who try and play their way out of imminent danger and nutmeg strikers, or full-blown Forrest Gumps like Silvestre or Squillaci, it was so refreshing to see someone just kick it as hard as they could to get us out of trouble.

At £8 million, he was a great signing for me.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Padre Pio (IP Logged)
Date: 12/12/2017 08:05

He is/was the closest we had to a captain since Arteta



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: MattySadler (IP Logged)
Date: 12/12/2017 09:44

Quote:
Shane
Mertesacker hasn't looked up for it all season. Even his body language earlier in the campaign was one of a man who didn't really give a f*ck which, for Mertesacker, is pretty surprising, given his character.
I agree he shouldn't have been kept on, but he's still perhaps my favourite Arsenal defender since Toure.

I think his debut was against Swansea and I remember thinking, 'We've badly needed someone like this' and all he did was hoof the ball up the other end of the pitch to make me think that. When you've got footballing centre-backs like Koscielny or Vermaelen who try and play their way out of imminent danger and nutmeg strikers, or full-blown Forrest Gumps like Silvestre or Squillaci, it was so refreshing to see someone just kick it as hard as they could to get us out of trouble.

At £8 million, he was a great signing for me.

I won't try and take anything away from what Mertesacker has done for us. I'll basically echo what I said about Arteta. After we lost Fabregas and got d*cked 8-2 by United we were rock bottom and nobody thought we could finish in the top four. We signed five players, and of those five, Mertesacker, Arteta, and Benayoun (when he played) were all brilliant. There was a time around 2012 - 2014 where are Szczesny-Sagna-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Gibbs defence was near-impregnable, before we started getting hammered by big sides regularly.

Arteta started showing signs of decline in 2012-13, and by 2013-14 was clearly finished as a top level footballer. It took us until the summer of 2016 to finally move Arteta on and bring in his replacement. Mertesacker has been a good signing for us, no doubt, but personally I wanted him replaced after his really poor 2015-16 season (Koscielny and Gabriel were also poor that season). Again, we've hung onto him for another two seasons since then. Last season he didn't feature until the final two games, and as you said, this season he just doesn't look up to it at all.

The latest rumour is that Mertesacker wanted to retire at the end of last season, but Wenger asked him to do another season. Obviously we have no idea how true that actually is, but at the moment there may be some truth in it. I don't know whether it's misplaced loyalty or even not wanting to spend the money replacing them, but we keep seeing evidence of Wenger hanging onto these players for so long and it kills us. I don't doubt we'll see something similar happening with Koscielny and Monreal as well.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Shane (IP Logged)
Date: 12/12/2017 11:54

I wouldn't have kept him on as I said, and I don't doubt that rumour for a second, but I can see Wenger's thinking behind it.

He was outstanding in the FA Cup final when his age, coupled with the fact it was his first game of the season, should've meant that he was disaster. But I think Wenger also wants him around because of his presence. There's countless anecdotal evidence from past players to suggest that Wenger doesn't like confrontation. There's also anecdotal evidence that Mertesacker is the disciplinarian in the squad, the one who keeps them from stepping out of line, so I think it's probably his dressing room influence which is why he has been retained.

As I said, I don't agree with it because why not just go out and buy a class centre-back with leadership qualities coming out of his arrse, but that's my guess.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: MattySadler (IP Logged)
Date: 12/12/2017 16:53

And probably why Mertesacker is getting put straight into a pretty important backroom role as well, yes good point.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Merlion96 (IP Logged)
Date: 12/12/2017 21:12

Wrong tactics with Mertesacker in Back-3.

Notice the wide gaps of Back-3 without Xhaka providing cover between defenders?
Terry Austin had a field day running into those gaps between defenders.

Mertesacker is a Back-4 defenders in a compact back-line with defenders space less than 10 yards ... and needed a quick-recovering Koscielny to get him out of jail once a pacy forward like Austin got pass him..

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Boston Gooner (IP Logged)
Date: 12/12/2017 23:20

Koscielny's quick-recovering days are over.



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Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: MattySadler (IP Logged)
Date: 13/12/2017 08:02

So factoring it all in, we've potentially got the cost of replacing star man Alexis and Ozil, the cost of replacing soon-to-be out of contract players like Mertesacker, Wilshere and Cazorla, plus the likes of Ramsey, Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck who'll be out of contract at the end of next season, and the cost of replacing players at the end of their careers like Cech, Koscielny and Monreal.

Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Boston Gooner (IP Logged)
Date: 13/12/2017 10:16

Bit of a mess Matty isn't it. lol



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Re: The combined age of our three centre backs was 96 Ratings
Posted by: Optimistic Gunner (IP Logged)
Date: 14/12/2017 07:40

Quote:
Boston Gooner
Koscielny's quick-recovering days are over.



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