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Old hands or new blood?

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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Date:Friday April 16 2010
Time: 12:12PM


Silvestre is awful, You need someone who is gonna BALE you out ;)
16/04/2010 12:16:00
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)
16/04/2010 12:19:00
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
16/04/2010 12:36:00
Blood, Hands, Silvestre's picture? It wasnt me......Honest guv.
16/04/2010 13:16:00
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
16/04/2010 13:24:00
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
16/04/2010 13:29:00
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.
16/04/2010 13:29:00
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
16/04/2010 13:38:00
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.
16/04/2010 13:57:00
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
16/04/2010 14:12:00
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