This season’s team: the defence

The edition of this article published at around 8.30am BST on 26 July missed out Sagna, not because I don’t know he is there, but rather because my computer decided to take on a life of his own.  His details were added at around 1pm BST.  Apologies for the first mistake – I had to leave for work and just didn’t have time to sort the page out.

This article carries on from the pieces already published on the front line and the midfield for Arsenal next season – keeping the same format as before.


Last Season: 39 starts, 5 as sub, 0  goals

Injury potential: Had a bit of a spell out last season but nothing too awful.  125 games in three years says he’s not one to get too many problems..

Brilliance potential: Has been a regular from the start.

Breakthrough potential: Nowhere to breakthrough to – we would expect him to be first choice.

Personality: Never seems to react too much, a solid defender – exactly what we want.

Crowd potential: Few rave over him, but he is just there, consistent, doing it.

International Disruption Potential: Banned by France for having been in South Africa.  What dopes they are – but to our benefit if he doesn’t play.


Last Season: 45 starts, 0 as sub, 8 goals

Injury potential: Nothing too serious – missed a couple of games at the end of the season, that’s about it.

Brilliance potential: Hit the ground running – first match a 6-1 thrashing of Everton away.  If that season was not brilliant I have no idea what is.  He’s only 25.

Breakthrough potential: He’s there – no one will replace him when he is fit.

Personality: Cool, calm – he came over as a really nice guy in the interview Walter did with him on Untold.

Crowd potential: Loved by all.

International Disruption Potential: Will play in all the Belgian games but they don’t qualify for major tournaments normally.


Last Season: 7 starts, 0 as sub, 0 goals

Injury potential: He got an ankle injury in November last year and that about did it for him.

Brilliance potential: An England full back aged 21.  If the maniacs of international football can leave him alone he should be ok, but if not, then anything can happen.  Can you imagine being coached by Mr Cappuccino for a week?

Breakthrough potential: If everyone is fit, then little chance other than in cup games and towards the end of the season when we are ten points clear with two games to play.   But he is exactly the sort of cover we need to hang on to.  Trouble is the midfield is so strong he’s not even likely to play there.  .

Personality: Yet another of whom we can say, “Never seem to hear anything bad.”

Crowd potential: He’s English, and that should help an immediate rapport.


Last Season: 32 starts, 1 as sub, 0 goals

Injury potential: He had his time out, and came back not looking so good, but then got his form back.   We have cover in his position, so probably on the law of it never happening where it matters less, he’ll play all year.

Brilliance potential: Signed in 2003 and showed his potential after Cole got sent off at Leicester for a stupid tackle.  Been doing it ever since.  His return from injury this year was uncharacteristic – normally solid.

Breakthrough potential: Solid first choice left back.

Personality: Another Mr Quiet.

Crowd potential: It wasn’t the crowd that turned against him when he came back from injury but the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal blogs and their Tottenham supporting buddies on TV who really got on his back.   Two poor games and they were screaming for him to be released.  If you ever needed proof of what is seriously wrong with part of the Arsenal blogworld, that moment gave it.

International Disruption Potential: French regular, in the world cup, so now suspended.


Last Season: 40 appearances in all competitions last season

Injury potential: Nothing we know about.

Brilliance potential: Highly rated by Wenger.  Voted Best Player in Ligue 2 for the 2008/2009 season by his fellow professionals

Breakthrough potential: His main problem is that he will be compared with Vermaelen.

Personality: ?

Crowd potential: “He doesn’t do it for me”: the AAA.

International Disruption Potential: Born in France, but uncapped (so they might want him with 23 players currently suspended).  Could also qualify to represent Poland.


Last Season: 0 starts, 1 as sub, 0 goals

Injury potential: Out last season due to an injury picked up playing for Switzerland.

Brilliance potential: Has played over 60 times for Arsenal, and looked to have great potential.

Breakthrough potential: When either of the first two are injured he must be first choice to replace them.

Personality: On Arsenal TV interviews he came across as a lovely guy.

Crowd potential: Depends if the AAA get their teeth into him.

International Disruption Potential: Will start playing for Switzerland any day now.


Last Season: 12 starts, 0 as sub, 0 goals

Injury potential: Hard to say.

Brilliance potential: Has had limited chances – at the end of the season he played against Blackburn but then not against Fulham.

Breakthrough potential: Perhaps as a midfielder?

Personality: He was linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain by the rumour mongers and immediately did an interview saying, “I just want to say I am fully committed to Arsenal.  My heart is with Arsenal and the manager. I want to stay here. I want to work hard so I can eventually play for the first-team. My dream is to play for Arsenal week-in, week-out and to be the first choice left back. If I work hard and improve my defensive duties then I think it is a strong possibility. But I am nowhere near leaving.”

Crowd potential: Depends if the AAA get their teeth into him as “second best”.

International Disruption Potential: Will start playing for France during the big change around.


I believe he is now on a proper first team contract, which has already been extended.  He’s just 20, and after two years on the road with Nurnberg and Salamanca he looks ready to be part of the squad.  Not quite sure how he manages with the passport stuff, but no one seems to have raised that point, so I guess it is ok.

He can play defensive midfield and at centre back and at right back – just the sort of guy you need.  I would not be surprised to seem him as our fourth or fifth centre back this season.


Central holding midfield, or full back – maybe even a centre back.  Surprised everyone (well me anyway) by breaking through last season out of nowhere – and playing with aplomb.  That was 30 December 2009 at Bolton, playing alongside Fabregas and Diaby.

New long term contract signed in January.

In other positions

Song – I believe Wenger sees him as a centre back at some point, and he could certainly drop back there if we have cover for Song in the middle from Diaby, Denilson, Eastmond or Frimpong.

Eboue – is now listed as midfield, but obviously can play right back too.

And the others still has Campbell listed as a player – maybe they just haven’t taken his listing down, or maybe he is coming back as cover.

Also in defence we have Miquel, Bartley, Cruise, Gilbert, Hoyte – that’s not the full list of reserve defenders, but it is the list of those most likely to make the breakthrough this year.

But of course we could still sign someone else.

The rest of Untold Arsenal

This season’s team: the midfield

This season’s team: the front line

34 Replies to “This season’s team: the defence”

  1. I’ve been a regular reader in south Africa for the last couple of months now….first time commenting great blog not a single day goes by without me reading a few articles here…..pretty optimistic about the upcoming season ,we definitely have a strong enough squad to challenge for the league and champions league (provided we avoid another injury crisis where we had to play our fourth choice left back , third choice goalkeeper, no strikers for the whole of December….not to mention injuries to key players like song, cesc, robin, vermaelen,and gallas)…..cant wait for that final “defensive signing” hopefully it’ll be a player who can provide cover at both centre back and defensive midfield,…..(or could be a goalkeeper….who knows) either way ITS GOING TO BE A GREAT SEASON FOR GOONERS EVERYWHERE!!!!!

  2. Good article, but i missed comments about Sagna or have i maybe overlooked the article ?

  3. Wasn’t Koscielny voted best ligue 2 player IN HIS POSITION not “best player”?

    Nevertheless, there are expectations of another ‘defensive’ signing. Wenger said after Sturm Graz that AFC are still looking. Though what he actually said was:

    “The situation with Sol Campbell is still open and for the rest we’re still looking.”

    And who knows what that means.

    With Silvestre ‘signing elsewhere’ and Senderos and Gallas not returning, we should be better off than last season no matter what. One … no Silvestre as left back backup nor in central defence … Yea! And two, no Monsieur Gallas to grump up the dressing room even though he did some fabulous things on the pitch.

    With the 25-limit-and-other-restrictions rule coming in this season we may get Almunia and Szczesny (both qualified) as our top two GKs and some heavyweight from the low countries coming in at CB, or a brand spanking new GK from anywhere and a Jagielka-type in at CB. We just can’t tell.

    What I’d be fearful of is Sol as our fourth CB and no one else. Yes, Song and Nordveit can cover – but not brilliantly.

    I think if were going to work out what Wenger means by – “The situation … still looking” – we really need to look at what the rest of our 25 currently looks like. Because this season we’ll have Chamakh and Wilshere as certainties. And this affects the make-up of the rest of the team including the defence.

  4. It should be remembered that, between them, Senderos, Silvestre and Campbell barely played half a season worth of games at CB. As long as he stays fit Djourou should give us more than enough minutes on the pitch to cover for the absence of all three of them. Kosceilny needs to play up to Gallas levels (difficult) in order to nullify that loss. Any additional purchase or the return of Campbell would be a bonus.
    My worry is the fact that Song is the only DM that we have given that neither Denilson or Diaby are anything like their best when covering for him and both Eastmond and Frimpong are very inexperienced.
    It all hangs on the injury situation. A marked reduction on last seasons disasters in that area will see us looking very strong all over the pitch. There’s always a risk – particularly in the thug ridden Premiership.

  5. Sorry about Sagna – it was written, and then my computer corrupted. I then ran late, and am now at work with a mountain of stuff I must do. Will get Sagna added shortly.



  6. AW has very good belief in Nordtveit. He is from an area close to where I live in Norway, and I know a couple of his friends. Anyway there is no issue with the passport. Norway is not in the EU, but have several “contracts” with the EU like the passport stuff.

    Tony, I think you should have added keepers to defence, unless you are doing a seperate article. I’m worried by the fact that AW said we don’t have a nr.1 one yet. Don’t get me wrong, competition is good. It’s never a good thing if you don’t have an extraordinary keeper that stands out as first choice though. Rumours are that Fabianski will be our first choice, he is far away from the class that is expected by a title contender. A keeper for me is the most important piece in the defence.

  7. Hoyte is going to be sold off before the season starts I suspect. His time has come and gone – a shame neither of the brothers ever really stepped up to level required.

    At one point it was thought they would be future England players – a reminder of the difficulties when predicting who might come to shine from the youth team.

  8. A few days without internet and couldn’t comment. So shortly now, some great articles Tony.

  9. Sagna is plain and simple rubbish ,can,t get past his opposite defender ,can,t score any goals or even burst into the opposition
    penalty area ,can,t cross enough balls for Arsenal strikers ,can,t concentrate for more than 20 minutes at a time ,not for me thanks ?

  10. I expect to see Sagna, JD20, Vermaelen, Clichy start as the preferred back four. No way Arsene will risk Kos in front of the Kop for his first game. Campbell, Kos and Nordveit will be on substitution duty for the “first 4”.

    Not sure I agree with you, Tony on your assessments of Clichy and Gibbs. Clichy is a swashbuckler, but frankly, in the last two seasons he’s been very guilty of defensive errors that have cost us. When he swashbuckles forward his crossing is terrible and attacks fizz to nothing because of his lack of nouse in attack.

    I think this will be the season in which Gibbs is established as first pick left back. See you back here next May for confirmation.

  11. Sagna rubbish? What planet are you from?

    Any inside info about Stekelenburg Tony?

  12. Both our LB and RB have clear areas in their game which they need to improve – especially if we are to take advantage of the aerial threat Chamahk should add to the team.

    That said I thought Clichy had some truly exceptional performances at the end of last season – his workrate was phenomenal.

    There are very few better fullbacks in the premiership and most importantly they are young enough to be able to improve their end product – there is reason to be positive about both of them for the coming season.

    Think realistically about who youmight replace them with bearing in mind players such as Evra & Cole are unavailable (and in Cole’s case unwelcome). Who else, who plays in this position, do you rate? For example, don’t forget Johnson cost about £20million – overall is he any better than Sagna?

  13. Good point well made, Jonny. Liverpool would bite our hand off for Sagna in exchange for Johnson, forgetting about the HG player regs for a second.

  14. Good points Jonny. There are very few out there that can outshine Clichy, Sagna and hopefully soon Gibbs too. I think Nordtveit will have an impact this year, vern promising in the pre-season games this far. . And don’t forget the very underestimated Eboue. I, like almost everyone Else, would like to see another CB with experience coming in and Stekelenburg. He’s been on my “most wanted list” since spring last year.


  15. Stekelenburg

    Well, he has been commented upon as a possible transfer by so that takes it up from “made up by a drunken news of the world reporter just after he submitted an ‘Arshavin in tax revolt’ story to the level of

    This could well be on. Here’s what the man on said…

    According to the News of the World, Arsenal are considering a bid for Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. The Dutch goalkeeper has been with Ajax since 2001 and impressed during the Netherlands’ run to the World Cup Final.

    Now why would they put it up there if it wasn’t happening?

    (Answer: perhaps they were down the pub with the NEws of the world man?????)

    And we should remember that apparently Ajax is desperately in need of money.

  16. Tony Tbh I am not sure I give a fcuk anymore (or at least at the moment )……we are a two bit club in everything we do except spouting bullshit where we are grade A but of course we charge grade A prices too We really are a shambles of a club right now that are struggling to keep hold of our skipper (and only proven world class player) and whose ambition rises to the level of signing a striker on a freebie who had his best season scoring goals last season when he bagged 13 goals, a 24yr old lightweight centre back with one season top flight experience and possibly a 37 year old journeyman keeper and a centre back who provides great passion but is way beyond his best but of course is free They say in life you get what you deserve, well I dont think this club deserves to finish in the top 4 anymore much less actually winning a trophy (that is a real trophy wenger as opposed to your imaginary 4th place trophy ).Not sure we can get much lower tbh

  17. OK hamster, that’s fine – your opinion and of course you are fully entitled to it.

    I am sure that you too will recognise that we are fully entitled to debate the issue from our positive point of view.

    What I would say is that it is really lucky you didn’t start supporting Arsenal in 1956 or maybe 1910. Then you would start getting depressed.

  18. Hey Hamster, why don’t you replace AW and become our next manager. You knew we wont make it to top 4, so i suggest you are better than Paul.

  19. Ta Tony. Would love to see him play for us. And Hamster (AAA?) Why not buy a season ticket at Stamford Bridge then? Like Tony says, you haven’t been around long enough if you’re complaining about the lack of silverware and spendings. Historically we’ve been so much f****ing worse off than we’ve been the last 5 years.

    And please do keep in mind that The Arsenal will be around when all the big spenders hit the wall, floor and celing. As the survivors that is.

  20. Hamster – I refuse to listen to the squeaky-brained opinion of a fluffy rodent which stores it’s bedding in it’s mouth, sleeps next to the toilet and gets excited about running in wheel.

    Though this would explain that you are shortsighted, don’t know shit when you see it and talk indecipherable nonsense.

  21. I really hope that Sol does re-sign, irrespective of whether Arsenal bring in another Central Defender or not. I thought that he was immense last season, and he was even getting better and better as the season went on, as he got more into the groove. He definitely has at least one more decent season in him, as long as he doesn’t have to play week in, week out. In fact, that could well be his main motivation for coming back to us again, as at the other clubs who have been interested he would have to play most games, and he probably knows himself that he wouldn’t be able to do this now. Plus he probably sees Arsenal as a real good chance of ending his career with another trophy. (and as Sol doesn’t pull any punches, I’d take his re-signing as a massive vote of confidence and endorsement, in the squad we have) In fact, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense for him to stay with us – even if as a back-up player. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, because the information about him signing again seems to be more rumour than actual quoted fact. That he hasn’t been removed from squad pages though, maybe a good sign.

  22. This is an area i dont think we are good enough, we have conceded sloppy goal after sloppy goal. When I think of Drogba bombing down on our goal I am terrified the same when man u break on us. They are not bad players we just aint learning collectively. But the defending cant just be blamed on the defence.

    the TEAM and I mean the WHOLE team need to tale as ,much pride in defending as it does in attacking I see people busting a gut to get forward not the same commitment going back, we need to celebrate clean sheets like 4-0 victories, complacent defending is what will cost us, if the defensive unit dont spend hours and hours honing their craft we are only ever going to be close, at least half the teams in the league are strong enough to give us a decent game and possibly beat us, and arsenal are at their most vulnerable when they are in front and comfortable

  23. People like Hamster kill me ! Dixon, Winterburn and Bould were hardly household names at the time of their purchase, neither dare I say Petite, Vieira and Henry. Our biggest enemy is injury !! An injury free run leads to longer sequence of games both individually and as a collective, which then adds to confidence…..confidence is everything. To be without Arshavin, Fabregas, Song, Gallas,Ramsey and Vermaelen towards the end of the season, Van P for most of it, Nasri for the beginning of it goes beyond a joke. If the players we have can stay injury free, I cannot seeing us being stopped

  24. Nice article Tony. I honestly feel quite optimistic about our defence this year. It’ll be tested throughly, and mistakes will be made for sure. But I think we have enough quality to compete. Djourou has the makings of a world-class defender, and is a proven commodity with us. Same goes for Gibbs. I’ve been very encouraged by Nordveit, and Koscielny (while being a bit of a gamble) could turn out to be very good too. And as for Vermaelen, Sagna and Clichy, they are all outstanding, despite what the perfectionists say about the latter two.

    I’m pretty sure losing Gallas will prove to be one the best moves for our defence. Without him causing disruptions off the field I think the lads will find more calm and consistency, and the younger players will gain more confidence. I still really hoping Sol stays with us though, as he provides fsantastic guidance to the younger players (our biggest area of weakness), as well as offering good on field emergency cover. Defensivre midfield cover for the outstanding Song is still a concern, but hopefully Eastmond and Djourou can fill that gap if Wenger can’t/won’t find someone else.

  25. Just amazing the number of players we get linked to but nothing ever happens. I was listening to the radio and Stewart Robson (for the Newbies he is ex Arsenal midfielder who was a great potential player when he first appeared) saying that he thinks Wenger is still sticking that Flappy will be world class and thats why he wants an older keeper like Schwarzer so that he wont compete long term with Flappy. If true is shows Wengers warped thinking – he is all about potential rather than the here an now. What if Flappy doesnt turn out to be world class. There is so no evidence at the moment to suggest he is a world class. I can see this been a very tense season at the Emirates if Wenger doesnt buy some players this summer. If we have another season like last Wenger must be taken to task nig time – he is taking the mick! I think that most people in here including myself should call themselves followers of Arsenal rather that supporters, where I am concerned I offer support when at the game which is more often than not, the rest of the time included on my way home from games I am usually slagging Wenger off because this year will be about his last chance for the fourth time, it’s nearly the end of July and we still are well short of a team capable of winning anything, where’s the goalkeeper? Defence still unproven, midfield unsettled, no defensive midfielder other that Song who goes missing in big games and still far too much dead wood around like Denilson, Rosicky, Almunia and Fabianski. Every top team in Europe needs a good few ‘World class’ players and Arsenal have just two in Fabregas (nearly gone) and van Persis (nearly always injured), there’s players out there who would slot straight into our team like Mertesacker (excuse the spelling), Eden Hazard who I consider to be a hybrid cross between Fabregas and Overmars, and what about the goalkeepers, surely we don’t have to suffer another season with the incredible blunder brothers Aluminium and Flapianski, pull your finger out Wenger

  26. @hamster, you definitely entitle with your point. You should have seen the title of this blog. There are many other sites would love your thinking. Totenham or Chelsea fan sites that is.

  27. While I definitely don’t take the rodent’s eye view on this, I feel we are short at least one good solid defender. On the keepers I would love a good keeper but not just for the heck of it. He should be good (stekelenburg, benaglio, maybe Marchetti.)

    But whats more distressing is the lack of defensive organisation that we tend to show. One of the most frustrating aspects of the past few years has been how poor we are from set pieces, both attacking and defensively. Get back Keown as a coach I say. Its helped before.

  28. Koscielny

    Last Season: 40 appearances in all competitions last season

    Injury potential: Nothing we know about.

    Brilliance potential: Highly rated by Wenger. Voted Best Player in Ligue 2 for the 2008/2009 season by his fellow professionals

    Well, Sidwel was once voted Best Player of Championship.
    SImilarly, Jay SImpson was top scorer in CHampionship or is it Most Valuable Player?
    And Anthony Stokes was banging in goals at Scottish Premier League.

    I wouldn’t read too much in “Best Player in Lique 2” as he may very turned out to be Cygan Mark 2!

    Let’s hope he will not suffer from “2nd season syndrome” like Sagna, and Nasri.

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