Continuing our look at the team for the upcoming season, it’s the turn of the full backs.
First choice on the right should be none other than Bacary Sagna. The French defender took to English football like a duck to water, ever since he joined us and has gone from strength to strength. There’s really no better balanced (attacking/defending) right back in the league. As if to prove how we depend on him, last year’s results was a good example. We struggled without him and enjoyed success with him back in the side.
Defending is first and foremost his job. That, he does very well. You’ll be hard pressed to remember any particular game when Sagna struggled. Just the one time when he played without his braids, some seasons ago. Strong in the air and quick off the mark, he’s dependable as they come. One thing he does need to improve is his attacking side of the game. His crossing seemed to have improved year on year and this might be something he could work on, especially whenever we have Olivier Giroud up front.
Carl Jenkinson is the first back-up to Sagna. A Gooner himself, you can be sure that the former Charlton man is always committed to the cause. Pace and stamina. Attributes one would associate with youths and Jenkinson is no exception. He can run up and down the flank all match, without any major concerns. The one thing which he has an advantage over Sagna is probably his crossing. Whipping them with enough accuracy and bend that immediately takes the keeper out of the equation.
However, just like the problem is with youngsters, they lack awareness and experience. The experience to know when to go in for the challenge and when to just stick with the opponent. When to bomb and when to stay back. Jenkinson has the excitement of youth and sometimes gets caught up with our attack and neglect to notice his opponent moving into space. Hopefully, the seniors and the coaches will train that out of him.
Over on the other side of the flanks, the situation is less clear. Both Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos are fighting out for the one position at left back. This is something I’m torn about, who to be the first choice. There are indication, over the pre season at least, that Arsene Wenger is considering deploying Santos further forward. A move most likely to be used in tough away matches to provide extra protection down the left hand side. While Santos is technically more advanced than Gibbs, I would say the latter provides more attacking thrust than the former.
Many would have a different way to see this. Santos likelier to be the more attacking minded of the two while Gibbs the more defensive one. Not because I want to be different but I actually do think that Santos is a better defender than Gibbs. He looks lazy and slow but Santos has that decisiveness about his tackling. More often than not, opposition players won’t get past him by means of skills.
It’s a whole different scenario when it comes to pace and stamina. When Gibbs goes forward, he still has the energy to track back if the possession is lost. The same could not be said of Santos, who ambles back, at best. The combination with the midfielders would be crucial to ensure that we’re not exploited down the left, when the Brazilian supports any attack. Both have their merits and flaws. Guess, it’s about who will step up and take the spot for their own this season.
A scenario like last season won’t happen again. It just can’t. The pain of losing all 4 players at the same time is just pure bad luck. The full backs are pivotal in the way we approach the game. Without them, we are losing the support in the attack that helps to open up the space in the middle. One side is not as clear as the other side but all signs points to the positive side of things. We may not be the best in the full backs department within the league but they are not bad either.
Ryo Miyaichi joins Wigan on loan for the rest of the season. Roberto Martinez would be a good coach for him and hopefully the young Japanese gets a lot of playing time. He must make the step up this season and impose himself, otherwise there’s a big risk that he would never make the cut at Arsenal. Finally, a reason to watch some Wigan games.
Barcelona’s continuous flirtations with our players every single season is getting very tiresome. Alex Song is the latest one in demand. In his latest comments, Song doesn’t quite close the door on that possible move, no one in their right mind would. He has grown into quite the dependable midfielder, albeit one that sometimes lose track of his duties to the team. He’s an integral player to use but not one that is indispensable. If I had to call this, I think he’ll stay and won’t be agitating for a move. Not yet.
Finally, Nicklas Bendtner has apparently turned down a few offers for a move away from Arsenal because they can’t meet his 3 demands. Here’s my best guess at those demands.
1) NB wants no limitation on what type of underpants to be worn during match days.
2) NB doesn’t want to be stuck out on the flanks and only wants the central striker role.
3) NB wants Emmanuel Eboue as the personal masseur.
Obviously, whoever the clubs are, they are finding it hard to cope with demand number 1.