Fancy a man-mountain? This transfer, should it go through would mean that Arsenal have one of their own. Christopher Samba at 1.93 meters is roughly about the same height as Ignasi Miquel but with the size and built twice the Arsenal defender. He’s born in France but chose to play for his parent’s country of origin, which is Congo. He now captains the side.
The 27 year old centreback plies his trade with Blackburn Rovers who last season only survived the drop to the Championship on the last day of the season. Blackburn conceded 59 goals last season and Samba played in 33 of those 38 games. Those numbers only serve as an indication and not in any way implying whether or not Samba is a good defender. Out of the 9 games that he has played against us, he has only lost 4 of it. Thanks to Orbinho, here are more of his statistics from last season;
Pass completion : 64%
Tackles won : 1.56 per match
Interception : 2.1 per match
Clearances : 11.2 per match
Aerial duel won : 68%
Samba has appeared 34, 41, 33 and 35 times respectively in the last 4 seasons in all competitions for Blackburn. That shows that he’s quite injury free and is normally involved when Blackburn are playing. However, that figure is still far less compared to those that an Arsenal player will hit. Take for instance Bacary Sagna who played 39, 53, 45 and 53 times in the same 4 preceding seasons. That is easily more than 30% increase of the amount of games played. That is a big question mark over the fitness level of Samba to cope with higher physical demands.
Also the interceptions figures are quite low. Considering that tactics that we play has an affinity to attack in numbers, a defender with very good reading of the game to anticipate the pass is absolutely vital. Add to that, how our defenders are our first line of offence by bringing the ball out of play and making the right pass forward, 64% is hardly a reassuring figure.
It’s not all negatives though. If he comes, Samba does bring some strengths with him. Aerially, he would be massive for Arsenal. That is the one glaring weakness to this Arsenal side that will get the much needed reinforcement. Our vulnerability during set-pieces has cost us points last season and that figure could very well becomes much lower next season with Samba in this side. That is on the defensive side of things. The advantages could also be taken at the opposite end of the pitch. With Marouane Chamakh, Robin Van Persie, Thomas Vermalen and Alex Song; we could certainly add Samba to the list of players whose aerial prowess could get us a few goals.
However, the more pertinent question is how this will impact the make-up of the existing squad members. We do have a large group of centrebacks in the squad. Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djouorou, Kyle Bartley and Ignasi Miquel are among those fighting for the 2 spots. With the Belgian being a dead certainty for one of those spots, what does it left the others with, if they need to contend with the signing of Samba?
The performances of Koscielny and Djourou last season was a great indication of their potential and capabilities. That they have what is takes to cut it at the highest level. While Bartley deserves a look in after some incredible period in his fledging career with the loan stints at Sheffield United and Glasgow Rangers. Miquel looks to weakest of those contenders and perhaps a season out on loan will do him a world of wonders. Notice how I’ve not even mention Sebastien Squillaci.
Players are not happy sitting on the sidelines and neither will do 3 be happy to be a backup to Samba. Perhaps the best way to go about it would be according to opposition and tactics. Whereby Koscielny and/or Djourou are utilised when we are up against teams with more physical mobility and Samba and/or Bartley are utilised when we are up against teams with strength and height. Of course the rotation could also come about when players are out injured/suspended or just needing some rest.
Blackburn are still (Steve)Kean to keep him but the player himself seemed to have his heart set on a move away from Lancashire. £12 million is reported to be what Blackburn is looking to recoup from selling Samba. Somewhat value for money if put in a direct comparison with the sale of his former team mate, Phil Jones.
Contrary to popular beliefs, I’m not in the notion that we need a major overhaul of the defensive staffs. Surely not, when one of those names linked is Chris Samba. I’m sorry but that does not typify the type of team that Arsenal are. From what I’ve seen of him, he is not our class of player. It hurts to continually being found out at set-pieces and I’m sure Samba might be able to help in those instances but I wouldn’t mind if this transfer falls through. What do you think?