Arsene Wenger has confirmed he will be investing in another centreback if possible this summer but has praised the performance of Calum Chambers since his recent arrival.
The Gunners versatile defender has impressed since joining from Southampton, helping Wenger’s men claim the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday. The departure of captain Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona has left Arsenal light at centre back but Chambers has emerged as a genuine contender to start the season.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Liverpool centre back Daniel Agger in recent weeks, but apart from the Dane there seems to be limited options in the market, especially one who can make up for the loss of Vermaelen.
Arsenal need a signing and soon, Wenger reported Koscielny suffered an ‘Achilles problem’ and may now miss the season opener.
The Frenchman was able to utilize new boy Chambers at centre back again after playing him there during preseason, and praised the England youth international for his performance against City, and discussed his future role as a centre back.
He told the media:
I saw him [Chambers] there when I bought him and I play him there. For a 19-year-old he had an outstanding performance today. The kind of performance he delivered today is very promising. It’s impressive because he hasn’t got a long history in this position because he was a right back and I think if all goes well he has a good career in front of him.
He can challenge both centre backs and that’s what you want. You cannot play with two centre backs the whole season; that means he will play. You saw Monreal who played one or two games at centre back and he did well.
I allowed Thomas Vermaelen to leave before the end of the season because he was not playing regularly, he behaved outstandingly the whole season with dignity.
It’s difficult to maintain that kind of player at the top level if he doesn’t play regularly. I’m quite grateful and wish him very well because his behaviour was outstanding even if he didn’t play.
I would have bought him anyway because he can play right back, centre back and he can play central midfield.
[on replacing Vermaelen] What it does in my head is [make me think that] Chambers is among the best three and if I can find another one I will do it. But to find another one of that quality will not be easy because… Vermaelen left us and had the choice between two massive clubs. That means these clubs have looked everywhere as well and that means it’s not easy to find.
[on looking for a fourth-choice centre back] You make your position with your performance and you have to accept that. With the boys who have chosen to live in a competitive world, who plays? I cannot tell you. But maybe a guy who can play in two or three different positions would be a better asset for us.
Wenger talks of another versatile player, but really we need a specialist centre back. Chambers can hopefully develop into a defensive midfielder at the base of our midfielder and fill in at the back if needed, while Monreal is another ‘versatile’ option. Neither fill me with too much confidence for the season ahead though so we need someone experienced and ready to do a job as a centre half.
Who that will be is another question entirely, but you would hope Wenger has someone in mind. Especially considering he has known Vermaelen was leaving the club since before the end of last season.
If Koscielny is set to miss the start of the campaign we are in dire need of a centre back signing. Per Mertesacker has only just returned to training, Chambers is inexperienced and Monreal is the only other option at present. Hardly an ideal way to start the season.
Further up the field however we are looking far more potent, Alexis Sanchez adds the pace we have been missing in the absence of Theo Walcott while Aaron Ramsey continues to bring the goods.
Wenger reflected on his attacking options for this season, and is more than happy with the depth in attack -something he has not had the luxury of for some seasons.
I have more attacking options than I had for a long time – that’s for sure. Three, four, five years ago, every year we lost a big player. In the last two years, we added players like Ozil and this season like Alexis so of course that strengthens the squad.
I am of course very ambitious but I’m a bit cautious because I have quite a good experience. I look around and see the other teams have strengthened as well so it will be interesting to watch the Premier League because it looks like all the big teams will be very strong.
on the last time he had this competition for places…
I don’t know. I don’t look to much behind me, I always look forward.
The Community Shield result was a great confidence booster ahead of the new season but the depth at the back remains a real concern.
Still not sold on the idea of Daniel Agger, but we need an option soon especially if Koscielny’s knock is more serious (touch-bloody-wood it’s not). We shouldn’t be pushing Mertesacker back if he is not ready.
Do you agree Gooners? Share your thoughts below…