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Best defenders are 28 to 34 says Wenger

In an interview Wenger gave to Arsenal magazine at the end of the season he gives his views on the qualities and characteristics of centre backs. Since Arsene announced last month that he didn`t need any one for his defence, see Arsene Wenger Doesn't Want Any Kompany, it is interesting to look back on these views as some indication as to his current thinking.

He acknowledges Kolo, Gallas and Senderos as his principal centre backs with Djourou and Song also considered good defenders. The qualities needed in a good central defender he describes as Leadership, determination, steel, intelligence, reading of the game, and concentration - the capacity to focus for 90 minutes. But he feels that the younger defenders need to improve their composure. One of the most important qualities, and one that is often overlooked, is calm and composure. They [good defenders] never panic. That`s where our youngsters have to improve he says.

With Gallas soon to be 31 and Toure now 27 our supporting central defenders are still young. Senderos is the oldest of them but still only 23. Djourou is still 6 months away from his 22nd birthday while Alex Song isn`t yet 21. Wenger is also placing some store in Havard Nordtveit`s ability to step up a level. When asked last week by a Norwegian newspaper about Nordtveit`s prospects for next season he replied I expect that he takes the step up to the first team and gets a few games there. Yet Havard has only just turned 18 though Wenger claims he has rarely seen a more mature player. Injury prevented him from making his first team debut last season in the Carling cup game against Newcastle having to be withdrawn at the last minute.

Given the reliance on youth it is surprising that Wenger agreed that centre backs peak late in their careers. It`s not so much about how far you run, but about how many mistakes you make. The intelligent players learn from their mistakes, and cut them out of their game, the older they get. That`s why the best years for a centre back are between 28 and 34.

In some ways it`s encouraging to think that Gallas and Kolo are coming into their prime and still have some mileage left. Though Senderos has a fair amount of experience behind him now he still has plenty of time in front of him. As do Djourou, Song and Nordtveit though we have to allow them to gain the experience. To a large extent that`s an investment that will require some patience. A rare enough commodity amongst football fans.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday July 5 2008

Time: 10:19PM

Your Comments

Personally, I have faith in all of our centre backs, but I wonder about the best partnership. At the moment, I would seriously go with Senderos and Gallas.
Little Dutch
I would go Gallas and Djourou in pre-season. If it does not work out, let Kolo and Djourou have a few games. Then Gallas and Toure.
Goofle
Kolo, and Gallas, by default. We could of used more height. At least there is no ANC this year, with no sufficient replacement for Toure, it wasn't by accident, our season turned for the worse, even when Kolo returned he was injured, and knackered. I still think Arsene should of made center half a priority, but to me these two are the best of the lot.
zenchris
I know a lot of people have doubts over Kolo-Gallas but they indeed looked solid after Gallas came back from a short-term injury at the start of the season, but granted, at the time the entire team was flying. That's why I was incredibly nervous about Kolo going away, I even thought it's the biggest thing that could hurt our title challenge, how wrong I was. Senderos clearly did a good job alongside Gallas when Kolo's away and that's when some of our best games were played, both legs against Milan spring to mind. Kolo just has not performed ever since he came back from ACN and injury. I felt so strongly about the Gallas-Senderos partnership at the time that I thought it's unfair and wrong to bring Kolo straight back into the CB position, only to push him out to RB and bring back a Senderos with weakened confidence. So now I don't know which partnership is the best anymore. Everyone says he needs a run of games to do well, but he slotted in once Kolo left for Africa. So I still think Senderos is a good deputy when he's given the chance. Let's see in the pre-season games.
Lou the Gunneress
Kolo Toure is the most underrated CB in the premier league. Having said that, it don't get any better than Vida/Rio! :D
ForeverUnited
Senderos? He's rubbish!
RadioactiveD
youre rubbish
gooner_till_i_die
"Personally, I have faith in all of our centre backs, but I wonder about the best partnership. At the moment, I would seriously go with Senderos and Gallas. Little Dutch" That statement has just shown me you know NOTHING about football...LOL..or you are a wind up? Which is it LD?
Bergkamp was a Myth
That's a comment without grace and not very smart BWAM. Why should your opinion be worth anymore than anyone else's if you disagree? Presumably when Wenger selects Gallas and Senderos together it also proves then that Wenger also knows nothing about football does it?
Amos.
That'smyopinion and I don't particularly care if you care for it or not. Arsenal's best runs of form over the last three years have always seen Senderos have a run in the team.The end of 04|05 when he didn't concede a goal in ten games, the ten game clean sheet run in 05\06s CL, January and Februuary of this year when the only games he missed we lost 5-1 and 4-0. He also played in a Swiss team that didn't concede a goal in the world cup. But I'm going toadopt your logic from another thread here, I've personally been at every game Senderos has ever played for Arsenal, therefore I am automatically completely correct.
Little Dutch
I find it contradictory that Wenger has this to say about defenders, yet only one of our defenders is in this age category. For this season, I'd go with Senderos and Gallas as well coz they did very well as a partnership during the ACN. I still have serious doubts about the Kolo-Gallas partnership. However, if Wenger feels that he can fix that problem with coaching in pre-season, I'd still be willing to give that another chance.
prits
 

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