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October 2016
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Crisis already: all central defenders out, nobody to play anmore… or do we?

By Walter Broeckx

In order to check the pulse of the Arsenal supporters I have been on twitter and facebook the last days.  Now I must say that it sure seems that some  people feel unhappy.  But that is part of their general condition I think. As I have known them as sad whenever I see them write something.

First they were fuming about Per being named captain of the team. Apart from the fact that nobody ever said that Per would be captain after the departure of Arteta I didn’t really understood the fuss being made. Per was vice captain so when the captain is not around it is completely normal that he gets the armband on the playing field.

But they wanted to get rid of Per.  And it seems they are getting it their way. As it now seems that Per has a knee injury sustained in Lens and that he might be out for several months. Some say up to 5 months. And now the same persons are running around like headless chickens in all directions shouting (can you actually still shout when you don’t have a head???) how disaster has struck.

[This is technically possible for certain breeds of chicken, but only after sunset.  Dr Billy “the dog” McGraw.  Chief vet.]

It’s a funny world. First they wish that Per could be sent to the moon and when he is out they are in panic…. Make up your mind please.

I for one love Per and love his presence. And sitting in the unfindable away end in Lens I noticed how many balls he stopped and headed or kicked away before Lens could become dangerous. I also love the way Per responds to the fans. He is one of the view to always make time after a match to applaud the supporters. A gesture I surely appreciate from our BFG.

So the news of Per getting his injury has not gone down too well for me. But if on the same day you want Per out and then when he is out you panic…. Then I can’t follow it any more.

For me it is simple. I like Per, I rate Per and I wanted him on board (even as captain).  So I feel gutted about his injury.

And as Gabriel is also ill and Kos is still somewhere lying on the beach recovering from the European crooks party held in France we suddenly are missing our 3 regular central defenders on the tour in the USA.

But instead of going in to meltdown I see this also as a great opportunity.  The matches themselves mean nothing. And we are without 5 or 6  of our best players still resting.  Yes this will be a great opportunity for the young kids!

Chambers will get a chance to play his matches. And then we might see Nacho Monreal stepping in at central defence if Wenger deems it needed. Gibbs could play left back then.

But I think this might be a good opportunity for our new signing Rob Holding to present himself. Of course there is a big risk to this. Holding hasn’t played with the rest of the team yet so there might be some problems at the back in players not knowing how the other will react.

So if it doesn’t work there might be the usual outcry from the people already mentioned above saying that Holding is shit and always will be. And then the young man could face a difficult period. I think Untold will try to protect him and support him (well I will certainly do if he has a miserable start to this Arsenal career) but we know that the knifes are out already.

Maybe not that much to kill off Holding but to kill off the manager of course.

Another player that might get some more match time now will be Biliek.  I must say that when I saw him in the opening minutes of the second half in Lens I noticed a very nervous young man. Misplacing some easy passes early on. Not the best way to start your Arsenal career of course.

But as time went by I noticed  him getting calmer and more importantly I noticed him doing a rather sound defensive job. Some good tackles and interceptions. Some good clearing headers. I think the calming influence from Per certainly played a part in that.

So for the tour we have 3 “trained central defenders”.  And Bielik is still listed as a midfielder  on the Arsenal website in the youth team but he did play more than once over there.  All have in common that they all are very young!  Bielik being only 18 I think and both Chambers and Holding being 21.

Who knows… they might surprise us with a good performance and show what they are capable of.  And even if it would go tits down, then there is no real problem. Then Wenger will know that they aren’t really ready for the big work and will find a solution. Remember Kos and Gabriel are still Arsenal players and can be trusted upon to do their job once the season has started.

So I don’t see it as a frightening moment to see those youngsters stepping in the place of our 3 regular central defenders.  For me and for Wenger it will be a chance to see where they stand in the team. And who knows (fingers crossed) they might even surprise us.

Recent Posts

Quote of the Day

“I don’t want to be president of the party. I’m not even sure we should have a president of the party. What’s a president for? It sounds to me a bit like a director of football.”

Jeremy Corbyn.  Leader of the Labour Party


23 comments to Crisis already: all central defenders out, nobody to play anmore… or do we?

  • Whenever I hear of talk of a crisis in a particular position, I think of Bellerin. We had no one to play at right back. So we were using kids. Look at him he’s useless.

    Oh, and Barcelona apparently want him back and offered £30m.

  • Gord

    At least we didn’t have coconuts. 🙂 Sorry.

    With respect to headless chickens, we have Mike the Headless Chicken Day.

    I am still at a loss as to how Per’s injury mentioned in passing as why he would not be on the USA tour, gets turned into a 5 month absence.

    I would imagine if we go looking into the history of all top level teams in Europe, we will not find a single instance of a 21 year old becoming a first rate defender. That must be what all the crying and screaming is about.

    Not even a chance for Chambers and/or Holding to become the first.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Nice article Walter, Im also a big fan of the BFG, and was really glad when he and Arteta came that season.Lets hope hes back soon. I also hope that Holding doesn’t get chipped down,too many of our players have/are experiencing this.
    Are there chickens that shout without heads?Yes,theres a moldy old Chicken Coop in Middlesex where they often gather to help participate in St.Totteringhams day apparently.

  • Lee

    Hi Walter.

    I was wondering what you made of the comments from Per the other day, regarding our transfer activity and that of our rivals ?

    He is without doubt a leader and true professional in my eyes and one that many look up to and listen to in the squad. Hence I was a little confused by these seemingly sarcastic and outspoken quotes.

  • robl

    Thanks Walter, we love him too.

    Don’t forget we also have Julio Pleguezuelo @ the club who is very highly rated too.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It’s also possible for a ‘detached ‘ rattlesnake’s head to do harm if you are unfortunate or careless . Just saw it on tv . Bury the head deep in the ground !

    I once had a patient who developed a generalised urticarial rash from being ‘stung’ by a detached bee’s sting. It had flown into the fan and died , and her brother tried to freak out his sister by flicking it at her with a broom , and it pierced her shin and she had an immediate reaction.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I think that Holding and Chambers have played together as CBs at England U21 level so should have a degree of understanding. Bielik came to us as a DM but has played the vast majority of his games as CB. No need to panic just yet, who knows we might get a very pleasant surprise!

  • blessing in disguise! at least some hope from a nerveous person like me that a central defender is coming, alas! we have signed Holding as if arsene knew per was already injured. i’ve started doubting whether wenger still has ambition and hunger to deliver at the top, he know the grievances of the fans,the light indication from
    the players to buy,and of course the tense pressure he is going to see next season,perhaps he is waiting for everybody to finish his worst before doing something.

  • Leon


    If you’re talking young central defenders then you might consider: Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Tony Adams.

  • tunnygriffboy


    We needed a top quality CB anyway without the bfg being injured

    Mert is in his thirties and got exposed numerous times last season. It’s difficult to play a high line with him and Kos regularly bales him out. Kos himself is 31 and was hit with a few niggling injuries last season. He needs to be looked after.

    Gabriel is inconsistent and does some great things andcan make massive howlers. Then we have the green young CChambers and now Holding

    We are going to be hit by a Liverpool side playing at fullthrottle and will press our CB and Xhaka unmercilessly. We really need a top class experienced CB to replace Mert.

    When you see the quality of player coming into competitors sides it really worries me. There have been a lot of players moved this window that would have improved our sides. I seriously hope we’re not going to hear ” there wasn’t the quality in the market” or ” we tried but couldn’t get the player we wanted” having made a ridiculously low bid

    Transfer fees are obscene but it’s what the market dictates. You have to pay top prices for top talent these days. We have money but seem reluctant to spend it. Yes we’ve spent £30 million on Xhaka but we still need aforward and now a CB.

    If we turn up to the Liverpool game without any more signings and we get turned over surely you must realise that things will get ugly. There is a lot of anger out there. I’ve always supported Arsene but last summer and this summer so far really has changed my point of view. I genuinely want him to get the players we need and I know there’s 4 weeks to go but slowly and surely players are moving annd there are fewer options out there. I think it’s a pretty important few weeks for our manager.

  • tunnygriffboy


    Re Mert’s comments about other clubs transfers so far this season. Do you not think the top players at our club don’t notice that our rivals are strengthening considerably while we sit on our hands and standstill ?

    Top players want to see other top players coming in to strengthen the team showing ambition. I’m sure some of our players like the status quo as it affords them game time. Winners crave competition and want to play with the best. So far we haven’t done half enough.

  • tunnygriffboy

    Holding looks a very good prospect. People may well get frustrated with him because of the lack of movement in the transfer market. They feel we need an experienced CB and Holding will be the victim of circumstance.

    I’m looking forward to seeing him play on tour but to throw him in at the deep end v Liverpool would be a massive risk.

  • Ccxc

    Instead of being a paid apologist for Wenger and the board….

    This comment has been cut because it does not come from a valid email address. It really is interesting just how many people want to try and accuse Untold or all sorts of things and you won’t do the basic simple little thing of giving an email address.

  • Gord

    TGBoy -30

    Go to leGnome, or whatever that cesspool is called.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Hmm, haven’t us all agreed that Per is rhinoceros as he has become slower in age for Arsenal. And he dodges the opponett team headings and most shots coming into Arsenal box so that he won’t be clattered. And of recent, he has publicly talked too much to the media by insinuated a personal believe saying, the Boss should copy the buying of top players recently bought by other top clubs and buy also.

    I think the Boss should not doubt the capabilities and the game playing qualities of Chambers and Holding. And should go ahead to start them against the opponent teams they’ll play against in the US .

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Hmm, haven’t all of us agreed that Per is rhinoceros as he has become slower in age for Arsenal? And he’s well known for dodging the opponet team headings and most shots coming into Arsenal box so that he won’t be clattered. And of recent, he has publicly talked too much to the media by insinuated a personal believe saying, the Boss should copy the buying of top players recently bought by other top clubs and buy also.

    I think the Boss should not doubt the capabilities and the game playing qualities of Chambers and Holding. And should go ahead to start them against the opponent teams they’ll play against in the US .

  • Mad Eye

    Starting the Liverpool game with two out of Gabriel, Chambers and Holding does not fill me with fear. I am looking forward to seeing how the youngsters get on in pre-season and beyond

    It’s interesting that Bielik is going to the US ahead of Pleguezuelo who I thought would be given a chance this pre-season.

  • I knew it the minute I saw that picture of Tony with that loser Corbyn chap I knew the team were Doomed

  • GoonerEris

    Pity about BFG. Always a stabilizing factor who is usually missed when he isn’t playing. As for Bielik “starting his Arsenal career”, needs saying that he has played for Arsenal’s first team in a Capital One cup match, albeit on the losing side. He looks an assured lad and if the Manager can talk into his head, he may just do a job. I would rather go with Momreal and Chambers though; we are talking defending against Drogba and David Villa here.
    Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are the usual CB pairing for the England U-21, so may be an option to re-enact that partnership at club level..

  • para

    Maybe Per is going to be rested because of his injury to allow him to recover for the start of the serious games, but 5 months? I wonder where that came from? As said above, this gives AW time to assess the youth who can step up this season.

    Ah, headless chickens. I remember when i was young(9 yrs) i had to cut the heads off chickens for our meals but this one time we were having turkey. Having cut the heads of many chickens, my pals and i thought we were “expert” so we did the turkey the same way. Cut head off and let go to avoid the blood on our clothes. But alas, the turkey took off without it’s head and it took us about 15 minutes to chase it down. It was so funny (for us children) chasing a headless turkey running around and banging into things.

  • Ajay

    The pre season games are a commercial commitment and a chance to explore what the young players are capable of, a baptism by fire if you may. For the established first teamers to stretch their muscles and get some early game time. There is no need to get all worked up about the wins and losses. Now before it was a striker/forward, now we have the same group going on about a CB. I say let the management decide. The rest should just support the team with all their might.

  • Norman14

    Just wondering – with Per out for 5 months, and Kos not starting the season, who will captain the side for the first 2 or 3 games? From the players available, you would think Santi would be the next choice, but maybe Arsene won’t want to burden him with that responsibility as he returns from long term injury. So, I think it would be between Cech and Granit (who was captain at BM).

  • porter

    According to reports The German centre-back underwent surgery in Germany yesterday . Depending on the severity of the surgery and the recovery period it could be a few months before we see him back . It’s nice to bandy a few younster’s names around but at the start of the league programme we need to have the best we can if we want to be near or at the top come the finish.