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Old hands or new blood?

I suppose the current centre back issue is in some way a perfect illustration of our season. We have 6 centre backs with first team PL experience on our books (7 if you include Song who has played there with some frequency) - but 4 (or 5) are unavailable - Senderos out on loan and the others unavailable through injury. It seems unlikely that Gallas, Vermaelen or Djourou will feature again this season which leaves veterans Campbell and Silvestre and potentially Song to fulfil the remaining four PL fixtures this season.

Wenger has been criticised for not having provided adequate cover for injuries but it`s hard to see how we can cater for circumstances such as these with an average PL squad size of 26 or so. New regulations come into force next season which could restrict squads to 25 players over the age of 21 (of which at least 8 must be homegrown) plus an unlimited number of players under 21. With a standard 3 goalkeepers this allows the opportunity to only have one experienced player as cover for every outfield position in the team. Of course one centre back effectively provides cover for two players but the fact remains that we find ourselves down to the barebones despite having 6 centre backs. That`s the problem with an injury blight it tends to affect the team disproportionately in one position. Just as we found ourselves without strikers in December and January we now find ourselves with a surfeit of them and a defensive deficit now.

While any title aspirations, which were already out of our hands even before the mid-week defeat to our neighbours, are in any practical terms even more unrealistic now there remains the mathematical possibility that we can still, through some highly unlikely and bizarre twist of fate, find something to challenge for in the remaining games. Even 2nd spot is progress of a sort. But how do we approach these games?

While few have any faith in Silvestre he is still a better than average 4th choice centre back. He and Campbell, with Song still out, are the only obvious choices for the Wigan game though that might seem to come too early after the midweek game for Sol. So should we take the chance to blood one of the youngsters? Kyle Bartley still short of his 19th birthday seems the more obvious choice having debuted in the dead rubber CL fixture away to Olympiakos this season. Or while there is an ambition to at least go for 2nd place do we field the more experienced, if not entirely trusted options at least until the season conclusion becomes more definite?

After the Wigan game Song is likely to be available and, even though fixtures become evenly spaced out, I wouldn`t be surprised to see him used at centre back as he was at the end of last season gaining more experience in a position that Wenger has still favoured him for when the opportunity permits. It would be a shame to see a season in which we have come back so often after being written off limp lamely, a suitable enough description given the injuries, to a conclusion while it`s still possible to garner a somewhat reassuring 83 points for the season as we did the season before last. That might not favour blooding youngsters but then again perhaps it`s one of the few times when we can.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday April 16 2010

Time: 12:12PM

Your Comments

Silvestre is awful, You need someone who is gonna BALE you out ;)
p.villa
People talk about signing some top notch back up players - I dont' see that, not only because it's not feasible but it's also not prudent. What needs to be sorted is the standard of our back up players, it's in playing Song/Verm/Gallas constantly that's caused the injuries (when they haven't been fit) because he knows the back ups can't do a job so it's perpetual, as soon as the overall standard of the squad picks up - not talking about Rvp/Fab levels, but better than Silvestre, Eduardo, Vela performances, we'll be fine as Wenger will have as much faith as he says he does in the squad. Bringing them back from injury too early has cost us big time this season and that's symptomatic of him not trusting the squad players (that he's signed)
shewore
Kyle Bartley is on loan at Sheffield United, so I'm not sure there is really an obvious young CB ready to be put in the team. I do think that we should stick with Silvestre as he is the best we having at the moment and we need to finish the season strongly. The problem is with Campbell not being able to play too often, so will it be Sagna in at the back? I'm not sure thats such a good idea but it's not like we have a lot of options.
Gun 'Em Down
Blood, Hands, Silvestre's picture? It wasnt me......Honest guv.
iceman10
Would definitely say goodbye to Silvestre and Djourou. Silvestre is a liability at top level, and Djourou is play 1 game miss the next 10. Time to be a top notch 'keeper and CH,and really firm up the spine of the team.
Cockney Rich
BTW...Chamakh was at London Colney last week to have another look around. Later that day, a blacked out people carrier collected him and his partner to look at some houses.
Cockney Rich
I think the remaining four games are spaced out enough for Silvestre and Campbell to play them. And hopefully Song will recover in time to give either of them a breather. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the Arsenal defense next season, Campbell, Silvestre, Senderos, and Gallas all might leave. That's the worst case scenario we'll end up with only three CB. So it'll definitely be an interesting summer. I don't think Silvestre did too much wrong against Tottenham apart from one instant when he passed the ball straight to the opposition under no pressure. And some fans are even blaming him for the second goal, he was alert and tried to force Bale offside but Sagna lost concentration and he was the only not doing so. Had the shoe been on the other foot then I can only imagine what my fellow gooners would be saying about Silvestre.
gronedrone
For me gronedrone, Silvestre does not have a ' footballing brain '. I never rated him at Man Ure, and think even less of him now. His distribution is awful and his positional sense, at times, frightens me. TV5 is a nervous wreck when partnered with him. At CH you have to be dominant and intelligent, two things that neither Silvestre or Djourou possess.
Cockney Rich
You can make a case for Silvestre not being up to scratch and I might even agree with you on some aspects but Djorou is a top-level defender, Djoruo has a lot of qualities that are overlooked, against Chelsea at the Bridge last season Van Persie got the goals and all the headlines but he was by far our best player that day. That performance convinced me that he will make it at the top level. When Man U had all those injury problems in defense I think Fergie actually regretted letting Silvestre go. Silvestre is a back-up and no-more than that but people who suggest we play a right back in his place are letting their hatred of this man cloud their judgements to the extreme. But I think your prayers have been answered and there will be no more Silvestre jokes on the arseblog next season.
gronedrone
gronedrone, I don't hate Silvestre, I just think that he is NO WAY good enough to play for us. I take your point entirely about Djourous performance last season at Chelsea. Unfortunately that has been his BEST performance over the last 4 seasons, in which he has played only a handful of games.
Cockney Rich
My view on Djourou is a mixture of both of yours. I think he's shown in previous performances that he has what it takes to be a top-level performer, but hasn't shown it consistently enough. At 23 he's still young for a CB though and will be very keen to make next season count after sitting this one out through injury. When you consider that he has rarely got a sustained run of games, and his CB partners have changed rapidly, it is understandable that he has struggled to maintain form, but the likes of Diaby and Eboue show that its still far too early to judge Djourou. Let him get games and confidence, and consistency will follow. As for Silvestre, when you consider that in reality he's our 6th choice at CB (including Djourou and Song) he's actually extremely good! He isn't as mobile as he once was, and his distribution isn't up to scratch from CB (it's slightly better at LB), but I still have some respect for the man. He must know he's the club scapegoat, and arrived with heavy bagage having played for Man U, yet he still visibly puts in maximum effort every time he plays. The summer will be the right time for him to leave, to allow our defence to reshape itself somewhat and to finish his career at a club which appreciates his endevour more than ours, but I think in retrospect people will see that he was a good player to have around.
ArsenalRob
Silvestre against Citeh scares the beejeezus out of me. I won't be able to watch. Citeh, Blackburn and Fulham are going to be very difficult games, we won't win all 3. As for Djourou, he's a terrific young defender who's still learning his game. We should definitely keep him. Check out Arshavin's latest dig at our medical staff: "Let’s say for me it was always easier to be treated by Zenit St Petersburg doctors. I cannot claim I really know the reasons behind so many injuries at Arsenal."
jaelle
I really hate all of these Arshavin quotes. He's such a complainer! The first sentence of that quote is just totally unnecessary. It's nice to get the genuine inside track from players but if it belittles or causes problems within the club, I'd rather they'd just be 'economical with the truth' and sort it out inside the club. Arsene may well dismiss it in public as a mistranslation, as he should do, but surely not all of these episodes can be through misquotation, and if they have been, I suggest he should stop giving interviews to the Russian media. I hate to sound pessimistic, but I'm not sure AA will stick around for too long.
ArsenalRob
AR, I don't think Arshavin will be around next year either. That means we'll finally be rid of Pyles Malmer - assuming he fulfills his declaration of closing down ANR if Arshavin leaves.
jaelle
Much as I'd love the Closet Sp*ds Arsenal News Review to be taken down, I personally think Arsh will be with us next season. Then that will be it. Whether we have a succesful or disapointing season, he'll find reason to leave in both cases.
ArsenalRob
I can see Arshavin going i've said a few times in the forum i think he sees us as a stepping stone.
shewore
sillyvestre is a clown end of! whether 6th or 15th choice.. for all his experience, he doesnt usher any confidence/calmness, does he? as for arshavin... bit of a primadonna there
shady gunna
@shewore : if arsavin sees us as a stepping stone, i'd like to see where he ends up.. remember stepping stones lead to two directions - forward or backwards. nuff said
shady gunna
Have to agree with shewore re AW's overuse of first choice players and his lack of trust of back-up players. He runs players into the ground. Last season we saw this when Cesc wasn't playing well and was nursing an injury. AW kept playing him until the very end of each game instead of subbing him in the last 10-15 mins when we could afford to take him off. The result was Cesc's long injury, leaving us with little creativity for months.
jaelle
Shady he's made no secret of his admiration for Barce, although he came here he just wanted to play in England, i think he's tops and want him to stay but wouldn't be surprised if he's one of the first teamers that leave in the summer. Jaelle it's excruciating - exactly the same thing was done with Henry and towards his career with us really suffered.
shewore
The reason we overplay the first choice players is because our back up players are not good enough. Man Utd and Chelsea cope with injuries better than us and can afford to rest first team players more often as they have better quality back up players. AW obviously knows this as he mostly rests players in the domestic cups where we eventually lose to a smaller club or get spanked by one of the biggers ones.
bowiecokemirror
Arsene will get rid of Arshavin. He plays for spotlight and not a consistent performer. He is at best a 60mins player. If he is still with us next season, he will be the one to be sub'ed after 60mins and either bring in Chamakh or Bendtner. @shady: i agree with you, with what he has done so far at arsenal, he is no longer a Barca material, he is definately stepping backwards after us. And as for Silvestre, he is a nightmare. Imagine his passes, he cant make a diagonal pass, can't use his right leg to make a simple pass and reminds of Justin Hoyte when opposition closes him down.
Arseniger
Bowie - that's pretty much what i said mate.
shewore
Where is this Arshavin exit talk coming from? He is one of the world class players in our squad, and Wenger will not let him go. Arshavin has always been very honest. We loved him in the beginning when he honestly said that he wasn't friends with Pav, and the like, and now we dislike him for the same reason just because we don't like what he's saying?
prits
As for Silvestre, I hope he leaves this summer. He has contributed very rarely, not enough IMO, and has made more mistakes. I wouldn't mind if there was a 19 year old defender making the same mistakes, as there is always the hope that a kid will improve.
prits
If you believe the transfer rumours, then Wenger is targetting 26 year old Chamakh (a sure deal apparently), and 26 year old Jerome Boateng. With the improved revenues, perhaps, this is giving the opportunity for Wenger to now spend on players ready for the 1st team. More than anything else, this squad needs a mental shift, an improvement when it comes to dealing with pressure (this team does well when its the underdog, not so well when the pressure is on near the top), and that will see a good improvement next season. Now, if Wenger targets a goalie, who is experienced at 28-30 and we should be set for next season.
prits
Keeper is a top priority for me. I've said it before, Alumunia has helped us lose this title. Watching him miss a ball thumped straight at him the other night was painful and predictable. We've been unlucky with injuries to our back four, yes....but how many times are were going to say that every season?
Wyn Mills
This season the club made a huge effort to tie players down to club and it worked, I think next season we will see a similar effort to try prevent players from getting injured. Arseblogger made a good point about the injuries being a vicious circle where the more injuries we the less room for rotation there is and the less room rotation the more injuries we get. Surely we won't get four players with broken bones again next season but calf, hamstrings and groin injuries I suspect will be at the same level it was this season. I think its a mixture of bad luck and too many games at the highest intensity we had such a bad injury record. Frank Lampard has an extremely good injury record, I think every time he scores a deflected goal his body magically heals.
gronedrone
I agree with prits, people mistake Arshavin as unhappy just because he is honest. That's how bland and *****ed up our world is today, if anyone does anything other than say everything is smiles and sunshine, we criticise them and think they're some kind of super freak. As for poor back ups, United had a choice recently between playing a half fit Rooney and the £30m back up. They chose a half fit Rooney. Go over to Vital Chelsea and see what they think of their back ups, Belletti, Zhirkov, Ferreira and Hilario. Everyone wants world class players and world class back ups and I'm afraid that doesn't happen anywhere other than your playstation.
Little Dutch
Silvestre is an easy target for some fans, but it wasn't all his fault. The ball had to get past the rest of the players who were supposed to be defending from the front. Besides, he didn't buy himself did he?
Tony Rocky Horror
The arshavin getting tired after 60 minutes wouldn't happen if he was played in his best position at least he wouldn't look as clueless as nasri has done in a lot of his matches this year. Arshavin alongside van persie and fabregas is the only world class player you have and they are always one step ahead of some of your players in the way they play football,he would be so much better as an attacking mid in a free role closer to the opponents box than on the wings where he is tiring because of having to constantly track back. They are talks of both bayern munich and man city being interested in him.
garrincha1982
I am afraid Silvestre's baggage makes him an easy target to gooners. He definitely wasnt the reason for our cup exit or our derby loss.
re Arshavin, i hope he stays but dont think he will
Sajit
garrincha, check the timings of Arshavin's goals, over 50% of them occur in the last five minutes of games. Hardly a player who fades after 60 mins. Silvestre was actually booed by a small section of home fans the first time his name was ever announced after we'd signed him and he sat on the bench for the first time. Some people think they need a voodoo doll, which I've never really understood. I'm not sure why people are so intent on individuals when you're supposed to support a football CLUB.
Little Dutch
Just compare Sol & Silvestre. Sol has actually been out of top flight football for over 6 months, and he is able to come back effectively, almost immediately. Silvestre, who is a younger version, largely struggles to make an impact when called upon. Both are decorated internationals, in the past. I can see why Silvestre gets so much criticism - perhaps its too much at times, but overall, his signing has been a flop. Of course, Wenger will take the blame for that since he's the manager but by that count, no player can ever get praise or criticism, since the manager signed him.
prits
Whether Silvestre's signing has been a flop or not depends on what your expectations were of him. He was signed as a low cost but experienced back up to central defense and left back to a talented but young squad on a short term deal. Others have made the point about the quality of back up in defense at other top clubs and in that context Silvestre has done what he was bought for. Plus he has allowed others a respite from the position of chief whipping boy.
Amos.
I take your point there prits, but Sol never had a serious injury in his career and Silvestre had a couple and I think it shows. I wouldn't put his signing as a flop per se because he hasn't really played enough- nor was he ever going to. There was a period at the beginning of last season where he was considered first choice when Toure's form continued to plummet and Djourou wasn't considered as ready. Overall Campbell is and always has been a better defender than Silvestre, Campbell is arguably the finest defender England have produced since Adams and Des Walker (though Ferdinand is up there too). I wouldn't call Silvestre a flop anymore than I would call Luzhny or Davor Suker a flop.
Little Dutch
That'd be a flop then! Who's asking for world class back ups? I'm reflecting on the back ups we've had under Wenger in the past, Wiltord, Parlour, Vivas, Manninger, Hughes, Kanu et al - all capable of stepping up and doing a good job in tough, big games - although you'd question whether they'd be good enough for first team consistency. Even though Wiltord was club record striker he was superb when Pires was out on the wing, very underrated player.
shewore
Wouldn't that have made Wiltord a flop? If the club record striker at the time is consigned to history as a back up? Vivas I take your point on, decent back up, kind of the Eboue of his day- with the occasional indiscipline and lack of concentration thrown in. Vivas got himself sent off in a semi final and cost us a very costly goal at Elland Road within three weeks of one another. Hughes was never good enough, is Manninger different to Fabianski? Time will tell, both have made mistakes, Manninger was unable to get over his, time will tell of Fab does. Did Kanu score more goals than Bendtner notches? Kanu never registered above ten league goals after his first season, Bendtner got 15 last year. I don't think there's a difference in quality of the back ups, more the extent to which we rely on them nowadays due to our injuries! I've said it a few times, the most important thing we can do this summer before any signing is seriously investigate why we get so many and how we treat them.
Little Dutch
Sorry i'm definitely not having a pop at Bendtner, not by any stretch. Hughes maybe got a bit of rose tinted glasses on. Manninger's without doubt more favourbale to Fabianski at the moment, don't accept that theory of Wiltord being a flop, he was very effective - just cost £13m that's all. Vivas was great to throw on for 10min towards the end of the game when we were leading (awwww, they were nice weren't they!) That'd be a semi final at Elland rd now in a competition that Wenger's more than happy to acknoweldge that he doesn't accept it as a trophy.
shewore
Vivas hardly featured after the first season and Wiltord, Parlour and Kanu were hardly signed as back up players even if they eventually became so. Silvestre was only signed as a back up and nothing more. It's probably fair to say that he hasn't exceeded expectations but he is doing what he was signed for.
Amos.
What, brick it when he's in posession and look like a 12 yr old in a 40 yr old's body? I can't believe he's 2 weeks older than Gallas. He does ok at LB though.
shewore
I'm no expert in these matters but George Graham was saying the other day on TV that maybe our players are so finely tuned that it doesn't take much for them to go over the edge. Think he used the phrase overtuned. You look at the type of physique that Lampard and Rooney have and you can see why they perhaps don't get those muscle strain type injuries. I would really love for us to sign the Lyon keeper Lloris.
Gooner_Vin
Good article from James Lawton of The Independent - http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/james-lawton-for-the-good-of-the-game-wenger-must-keep-his-faith-1946205.html
Gooner_Vin
Arshavin, like most footballers, has always had a dream that one day he would play for Barcelona, and he's said that openly in the past. On his criticims of England, he was spot on: Vidic, if you recall, also recognised that Britain was a dark hole of unrelenting capitalist grind. It's one of the reasons our football's so passionate. People live for it as a compensation in many ways.
Tony Rocky Horror
LD I don't think Arshavin's 'unhappy', I just don't think he really considers his place at the club - or possibly the club's place with him - to be of any permanence. Regarding his comments to the press, coupled with his performances in games, he seems largely to be an outsider taking a ride with our club - hoping he can win medals through the club's success, rather than really engaging in the collective drive for trophies. This image is enhanced by the difference in his performances against lesser and more major sides - more noticably looking for glory in games which he knows will be scrutinized, whilst looking more of a lone roamer in lower-key clashes. I do feel, though, that this can occaisionally be a good thing, as his individualism adds a more direct threat on goal than our often predictable team-play when he is motivated. Of course, this is all theoretical, and will never be proved either way, but it is an image he brings upon himself. I haven't got a problem with his honesty, and as I said, it's nice for the fans to get some valid, personal opinions from the players, but it should be the duty of every member of every organization under high media-scrutiny - such as a major European football club - to avoid adversity. I think that by now we are all aware that the British media will do their best to whip up a storm from the most mild of sources, so why play to it? It means Arsene will have to spend even more time answering pointless questions, and, no matter how strongly he refutes allegations, they will come back to cause more trouble in the summer, and some of his own fans may start to question his commitment.
ArsenalRob
Arshavin has goals against Birmingham, Burnley, Bolton, Hull City and Wolves this season, his others were one against Liverpool and one against United. I think it's a fallacy he only turns up for big games. He's just the type of player that drifts in and out of games. He'd be the same if he were playing for Barca right now. Why does any player talk the press when they know their words will be twisted? That's not the sole preserve of Arshavin.
Little Dutch
Oh and he also scored against Stoke.
Little Dutch
...and Blackburn.
Amos.
He may have scored in those games, because he has enough talent to do so with little effort against such sides, but his invovement was pretty sparce in all of them except the Bolton game, and I'm sure his team-mates would've appreciated a little more from him in pressing the opposition and giving options going forward. You're right he'd be the same if he played for Barca (although Guardiola would get a bit more out of him defensively) - but it's still a problem as far as I'm concerned, because I think it shows a lack of motivation, if not commitment. Look at the way he lead Russia at the Euros. He's clearly quite a patriotic guy, and he really showed that on the pitch, he had as much desire as he did skill. We don't get that from him. No, it's not only Arshavin who has troubles with the press, but he does encounter them more often than other players. The young players at Arsenal are taught how to interact with the media, something which comes across well in Clichy, Cesc, Bendtner etc, and which Arsh could really have done with. It doesn't take a genius to work out that saying he doesn't like living in England is going to be a comment which gets out of hand. He just needs to curb his honesty a bit. The truth, nothing but the truth, but perhaps not the whole truth - for the good of the club.
ArsenalRob
"Yulia would like to stay and live in London and plans to get citizenship, even if I have to move to play in a different country." That's what I mean. Why couldn't he have just left that last bit out. It's only going to cause a ton of rumours. The fact that he's so prolific at the end of games points to his low energy expenditure during the game, meaning he's got a lot left in the tank to hurt the opposition.
ArsenalRob
Personally,I tend to think that anyone who takes press runours seriously is going to be unhappy their whole lives. I don't believe in pandering to the lowest common demoninator. If you're silly enough ti believe everything the press tells you, you're not worth sucking up to.
Little Dutch
That's one way of looking at it. Personally I'm more of the manipulative persuasion - if the fans are 'silly enough to believe everything the press tells you' (and 95% of them are), then I personally think they're definately worth sucking up to. Get them as behind the team as possible, not doubting they're commitment. Why don't we just fill their empty heads with glorious thoughts, and just sit back, relax, and let them help push us through the seasons.
ArsenalRob
Arshavin is a serrious ******** talent, fact.
shewore
 

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