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Looking at the defence

The club that changed football

Coming soon: The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC

Making the Arsenal


By Walter Broeckx

With not much news or Arsenal games to look forward too,  we could have a look at our defence and how it has been doing this season. The starting line up in our defence in the games in the PL has been this:

Sunderland: Jenkinson – Per – TV – Gibbs: 0 goals

Stoke : Jenkinson – Per – TV – Gibbs  : 0 goals

Liverpool : Jenkinson – Per – TV – Gibbs: 0 goals

Southampton: Jenkinson – Per – TV – Gibbs : 1 goal

This was the line up of our defence in the first 4 games in the PL. And they only let in one goal in those 4 games. And the last thing you can say about that goal is that you can blame one of the defenders. It was a clear mistake from Szczesny who was injured at the time and dropped the ball from an easy cross. One could say that Szczesny spoiled the perfect start of the defenders that day.

In the next game we were forced to make a change and we started against Manchester City with:

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Man City: Jenkinson – Per – Kos – Gibbs : 1 goal

We conceded a goal in this game. A corner was headed in by Lescott. Vermaelen was out with the flu and Koscielny started his first game of the season.

For the next home game Wenger opted to change the defence himself. Nobody was injured, nobody was sick. And we started with:

Chelsea: Jenkinson – Kos – TV – Gibbs: 2 goals

Per Mertesacker was on the bench and Koscielny had taken his place. After 90 minutes we knew it might have been the wrong decision. Apart from any other outside influences we can only say that Koscielny didn’t look great with the goals. 2 goals that came as a result of two free kicks with the defenders not sharp enough to attack the ball.

In the next game at West Ham with all players fit and available Wenger went back to the defence from the first 4 games and that was

West Ham: Jenkinson – Per – TV – Gibbs (Santos) : 1 goal

This was the first time in 7 games that Wenger was forced to make a substitution during the game and take a defender off because of injury. Santos came in for Gibbs and well I can’t really remember him doing anything wrong to be honest. He slotted in perfectly and looked as comfortable and relaxed as he usually is when he plays.


So far in the PL we let in 5 goals. 3 from as a result from dead ball, 1 as a result from a real keeper mistake in open play and 1 goal from open play.

If we could keep this up for the rest of the season we could only be letting in 27 goals over the whole season. If we could do that, that would be great. That would be better than Manchester City did last season who let in 29 goals in the whole season.

So far so good we could say. The defence has done a decent job in 6 of the 7 games and only in one game we could feel a bit unhappy about the defence and then most of all on defending free kicks.

If we look at who most played in this defence we see that our right back was not really the preferred choice right back. But Jenkinson proved the doubters wrong and has played extremely well for most of the games. Not bad for an unknown boy who only cost 1M, had only a handful of first team games under his belt was considered not good enough by the you know who.

I think Jenkinson is far from the finished product and he still has a lot to learn. But there is absolutely no need to rush Sagna back. Unless Wenger wants to give Jenkinson a breather of course. Because don’t forget he is still young and last season he also was out for a couple of months with a back injury. So let us hope Wenger can keep the balance between those two players at right back and give them the rest when they need it.

Another player who is shining big is Per Mertesacker. Again many people eating humble pie for the moment about this player. Much criticised last season (mostly unfair in my opinion) he is now doing what has given him more than 70 caps for the German national team. No need for speed when you are intelligent. Being in the right place at the right time is his trade mark defending. And sticking out a long, long, extra long leg at times can be helpful also. He isn’t the spectacular defender you see sometimes but he just is doing his job in a quiet way.

Thomas Vermaelen is the one that we expected to be there. But he hasn’t had his best season so far. No goals scored yet and a few bad moments. Maybe the flu was part of it and against West Ham he was already much  better with his big defending partner next to him. But we know he can perform so no need to worry.

And the man with the most important tackle of last season has been impressive at left back. And just when you think he will be over his injury problems… he gets injured. Gibbs can’t defend, they said. Gibbs his position is poor, they said. Well if that was the case before then he surely has learned it by now. In the old tradition he runs up and down his flank and supports the attack, creates chances, let other team defenders score own goals. I think Gibbs has won the left back spot when he is injury free. And even then we have Santos,  the spreader of happiness as his back up. Quick as lightning in his car and bags of experience on the bench. Just as on the right back spot we have a great backup.

Who would have thought that our best defender from last season, Koscielny, would be sitting on the bench most of the time this season? I certainly didn’t see that coming. But the good thing is that in each position we can lose a player for a while (let it be a short while) and have a very good back up.

We have height, we have speed, we have grit and determination, we have skill.  I think we should be able to cope with all kinds of attacks with the defenders we have at our disposal for the moment. With the right rotation at the right time and if they all can stay fit we are good in that department. Let us keep our fingers crossed they all stay fit.

13 comments to Looking at the defence

  • marcus

    Great analysis I must say. Just to add, I think we should get rid of Djourou and Squillaci in january and bring in a fourth capable defender. Mapou yanga mbiwa would be a great addition, but on second thought we should go for a defender more of the mertesacker mould (tall, strong and can read the game well and sit deep). This is because we already have TV5 and kos who are athletic ball playing defenders and as stats have shown, pairing them together leads to conceding of too many goals as they are too alike. Per is the only one who brings balance to that defense and when he’s injured we get exposed. A defender like matt hummels fits the bill perfectly.

  • chris from Cambridge

    Sound comments.

  • Adam

    If im not mistaken, we have conceeded all our goals at the back post. From mostly high balls, but the odd shot across goal. God this is a slow month. roll on November.

  • arsenal defence as really improve very well especially d likes of GIBS,JENKO,VERMELEM,METERSEKA AND KOCENLEY etc ;

  • James morgan

    I still believe our goalie is one grade below the top ones at Chelsea and MC.So far the gk can be blamed for one blunder. What I am afraid is during high profile games against the big teams,such blunders will be disastrous.

  • Walter says: “If we could keep this up for the rest of the season we could only be letting in 27 goals over the whole season.”
    Head in the clouds, Walter?

    Big Al says: Allow me to help you with another simple bit of maths…
    Chelsea are seven points ahead of us, after just seven games.
    Average: one point superior per game.
    Now multiply that one point per game difference by 38 games in the season, and at the end of the season Chelsea will have beaten us by 38 points.

    I like maths, too.
    (yellow smiley face, mate)

  • Lanz

    @Marcus. I am almost certain that if Djourou goes, AW will promote some youth rather than buy.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    I hope we don’t lose Kos for lack of enough game time.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Arteta deserves a huge mention when analysing our defence this season. In fact, Arteta deserves a huge mention in connection with just about all that is positive about this side

  • John

    Djourou is not as bad as suggested. He is better than most EPL 4th choice centre-backs. Also, Miquel seems to be a good prospect

  • walter

    Mandy Dod, stay tuned the next days 😉

  • Domhuail

    Our defence is so much more reliable this season, despite a few unfortunate moments, but the biggest differences are:

    1)The midfield of Ramsey,Arteta and Cazorla have mastered the entire EPL challenge and we still have Wilshere, Diaby and Rosicky to slot in! If Wenger decides to use ARshavin and the OX a little more, we have strength in depth.

    2)Our attacking force of Giroud,Gervinho,Podolski,Walcott, the Ox and Chamakh is spreading out the scoring that RVD did last season and s a constant threat to punish their opponents.

    3)We seem to be getting coached properly in defense and are allowing fewer shots on goal than ever before.

    Our defense is better because of midfield and attack is better! If Giroud really takes off and Gervinho keeps improving, we can expect to see better results in the remaining 31 games.

  • allezkev

    Ignasi Miquel is a very able defender, who can come in and do a good job if need be.
    Not sure we need to spend millions on a new defender?!